Americans, Calm Down: You Don't Need a Visa to Go to Europe

If you are an American citizen, you may think that you now need a visa to go to Europe, because you have seen headlines that read things like, "European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for Americans".

Despite the vote, some European Parliament members warned that the diplomatic row could lead to tit-for-tat retaliation from the USA and a drop in American visitors to the E.U., with possible serious economic implications for Europe.

This Thursday, the European Parliament voted for a temporary requirement. European officials in Brussels have balked at making travel to Europe more hard for Americans, saying doing so would have an economic cost and would most likely not even resolve the hurdles facing citizens of the five affected countries.

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Mr Moraes said the civil liberties committee could still recommend within two months that a case against the commission's failure to act be brought to the bloc's highest tribunal, the Court of Justice of the European Union. But, the resolution is not binding and therefore does not have to be put into effect.

It it were applied, United States citizens would temporarily have to obtain a visa until full reciprocity is put in place.

The need to apply for a visa to travel to a country is widely seen as a turn-off to potential visitors, given the extra cost and time an application requires.

Using this logic, it would be as if citizens of, for example, California, Oregon and Nevada (collectively about 14 percent of the USA population) were required to go through the often cumbersome, time-consuming visa application process to travel overseas, while citizens of the rest of the states faced no such hurdles.

"The Department of Homeland Security also reiterated that temporarily suspending the visa waiver for USA citizens would be highly counterproductive to the achievement of a reciprocal visa waiver", the report said.

This has been brewing since 2014, when the European Commission became aware that Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, and the United States were not reciprocating visa-free travel to all EU citizens, which is counter to the visa reciprocity agreement.

This decision comes after the European Union tried to make the United States treat each of the countries equally. The most popular countries for tourists from the United States were France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The resolution, while nonbinding, was an important political signal, and it increases pressure on the European Commission, the bloc's executive body, to confront the new administration in Washington, even though it may prove to be as intransigent on the matter as the Obama administration, if not more.

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