Travel to Europe may soon get more complicated for citizens of the USA.
The European Parliament voted Thursday to end the visa waiver program with the U.S., citing the U.S. lack of reciprocity.
The European Parliament called on EU executives on Thursday to force Americans to apply for visas before visiting Europe this summer, stepping up pressure to resolve a long-running transatlantic dispute on the issue.
The European Commission stressed it was pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the row, leaving it unlikely that it would act on the vote by lawmakers setting a May deadline to impose visas – a move that could hurt Europe’s tourism sector.
Washington refuses to grant visa-free access to people from four east European states and Cyprus, while those from the other 23 member states can enter using the U.S. visa waiver program. EU rules call for equal treatment for all Union citizens.
A Commission official said contacts are ongoing with the U.S. administration “to push for full visa reciprocity,” but fell short of saying that immediate action would be taken.
Former Communist countries Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, as well as the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, have been calling on Brussels to end U.S. discrimination against their citizens.
But the economic cost of imposing visa restrictions on the millions of American tourists and business travelers who visit Europe each year is a major disincentive.
Most EU countries are part of the Schengen zone that allows people to travel freely inside Europe without passport checks.