EC pressures US to lift visas for five EU member states

EU’s executive arm has called on the United States to lift the visas for five member states – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – or else the bloc will have to reciprocate in six months.

This comes only days after a new European set of rules providing for a joint stance on the third countries visa issue came into force on 20 January. The rules mandate that all EU member states “jointly react” on the visa issue, especially when third countries submit EU citizens to “different treatment”, according to website EurActiv.

Thus, unless the United States lifts the visa for the five countries’ citizens, the European Union could introduce visas for American diplomats, the European Commission said, echoing previous warnings.

“The full reciprocity of visas is an objective which the EU has to actively pursuit in relation to third countries, in this way contributing to improving the credibility and the coherence of the union’s foreign policy,” read the new rules.

The five EU member states will have to notify the European Commission in a few days about the visa regime each has in relation to the United States. By March, unless the US lifts these visas, the five countries can ask the European Commission to pass measures in order to suspend visa exemptions for such third countries. In June, six months after the enforcement of the new rules, the European Commission can decide to suspend visa exemptions for such third countries.

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(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)