15th April 2016

EC discusses visa non-reciprocity with US, Canada and Brunei

On 12 April, the College of Commissioners discussed the visa non-reciprocity situation regarding the United States, Canada and Brunei. The EU does not require visa from nationals of these states, but some EU nationals are required to ask for visa if they wish to travel to one of these countries (the US require visa from Poland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia; Canada from Bulgaria and Romania; and Brunei from Croatia). The EU has a law that requires the EC to monitor such situations and, as a sign of EU solidarity, push on such third countries to respect full visa waiver reciprocity (the most recent amendment passed the EP and the Council in 2013). Two years after the EC takes notice of such situation and if no action is taken by the third country, the EC must discuss the problem and assess the possibility to suspend visa waiver for such third country for up to 12 months – after analyzing the possible impacts. The last notice by the EC was published on 12 April 2014. Since then, Japan and Australia reintroduced full visa waiver reciprocity, but the US, Canada and Brunei have not changed their positions. The EC published a Communication stating that the reintroduction of visa for Americans and Canadians (and citizens of Brunei) would have dire economic and political consequences. Also, it is unlikely that EU countries would be able to process so many visa applications, the EC thinks. However, it asked the Council and the European Parliament for opinions on what to do. The two institutions have until 12 July to react. That means that the visa situation will be settled then at the latest. Until then, uncertainty remains over visa waiver for US and Canada.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic