In June we wrote about the April 12, 2016, European Commission Communication to the EU Council and Parliament concerning visa-free travel reciprocity with the United States and Canada. In its communication, the Commission requested a response and advice from the EU Parliament and Council by July 12 on how to move forward in light of outstanding visa reciprocity issues with the United States and Canada. In our previous post, we observed that near term action by the EU with respect to reciprocity and visa requirements was unlikely.
According to a follow-up Communication dated July 13, 2016, and an accompanying press release issued from the European Commission, the EU Parliament and Council did not take a position as of July 12 concerning the imposition of visa requirements on the United States or Canada. In the Commission’s release, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue have become more vigorous over the last three months with U.S. and Canadian officials. The Communication states that “contacts with the United States have intensified both at [a] technical and political level.”
In its July 13 Communication, the Commission further acknowledges, however, that “since April, there has been no progress of relevance to EU citizens resulting from ongoing United States legislative initiatives, notably the ‘Jobs Originating through Launching Travel Act of 2015’ and the ‘Equal protection in Travel Act of 2016.” The Communication continues: “[d]espite stepping up political and technical contacts, there have not been comparable indications of progress with the United States as those seen with Canada.” Commissioner Avramopoulos advised that the Commission “will continue to work towards full visa reciprocity and we will coordinate our activities with the Member States concerned, the European Parliament and the Council to accelerate the delivery of results.”
In light of the current electoral climate in the United States, recent global events that continue to heighten security concerns among U.S. governmental leaders, and the communications between EU and U.S. officials reported in the Communication, it is unlikely that the U.S. will accede to the EU’s requests in the near term. Conversely, despite the Communication’s direct language, the most recent Communication—which includes reference to the significant impact the imposition of visa requirements on U.S travelers would have on EU Member States—suggests that the EU will continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to the reciprocity issues it faces with the United States.