Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'EU may require visas from US citizens'

Wed, 23 Jul 2008 18:47:23
The EU has warned the US of retaliatory measures if citizens of the 27-nation bloc are not granted visa-free entry within five months.

"No tangible progress has been made regarding the United States despite all efforts of the Commission and individual member states," European Union Justice and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot said in the statement.

Washington's visa waiver program allows visitors to travel to the US for up to 90 days for business or pleasure without a visa.

Most EU states do belong to the program, and eleven of the twelve new member states will have to go through an application procedure that can take up to 90 days before traveling to the US.

This is while US citizens do not require visas when traveling to any of the 27 EU countries.

"Citizens of twelve EU member states continue to require a visa when traveling to the United States," the statement read.

“Therefore, the Commission will propose retaliatory measures e.g. temporary restoration of the visa requirement for US nationals holding diplomatic and service/official passports as from January 1, 2009 if no progress is achieved.” it added.

The US has entered bilateral talks with individual EU states on visa-free access and air security rather than deal with the EU as a whole.

The move by Washington has caused a rift in Europe, with critics accusing the Bush administration of using divide-and-rule tactics across the continent.

"It is unacceptable that nationals from some third countries can benefit from visa free travel to the EU whilst some of our fellow EU citizens can't travel visa-free to those countries," Barrot said.

MT/MMN

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