The European Parliament voted March 2, 2017, to end visa-free travel for Americans within the European Union. The vote is not binding, it will be up to the European Commission to decide whether to implement the restrictions. This decision comes shortly after the US failed to agree to visa-free travel for citizens of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Croatia, and Romania. This is a clear response to the treatment of European travelers when traveling to the United States. The EU says it notified the United States back in April 2014 that it was not meeting EU visa rules and had given the US two years to comply. Canada was given a similar notice and has since changed their visa policies.
Although, EU Parliament's vote urged the Commission to put visa requirements for US citizens in place within two months, the Commission has stated it will likely wait until the EU-US meeting planned for June 15.
“Our goal remains full and reciprocal visa waiver with our strategic partners” - Mina Andreeva, spokeswoman for the European Commission.
The economic cost of imposing visa restrictions on American tourists and business travelers who visit Europe each year is a major concern. Europe is the largest overseas market for outbound US travel, with 12.6 million Americans visiting in 2015, per the National Travel and Tourism Office. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Migration Commissioner, warned of “consequences”, a potential “retaliation” and a decline in visitor numbers resulting in substantial losses for the tourism industry. Per a recent report from the Institute of International Education, 54.5% of US students studying abroad chose Europe as their educational destination of choice. Not only that, for the past 12 years, Europe has trended as the destination of choice for over 50% of US students studying abroad.
Presently, visa requirements for US citizens traveling to EU countries remain the same. For future reference when traveling to Europe or the rest of the globe, always check the US Department of State website for entry requirements.
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