Your next trip to that conference in London just got easier. Despite the urging in March of the European Union Parliament to require visas for American passport holders traveling anywhere in Europe as early as this summer, the European Commission announced May 2 that it would not be taking the step at this time, to avoid “retaliatory measures.”
The threat to add the visa requirement could have had a severe economic impact on the travel and hospitality industry if even a fraction of the 27.4 million Americans who traveled to Europe last year had changed their plans rather than jump through that paperwork hurdle.
The controversy was the result of a U.S. policy requiring visitors from five EU member states—Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania—to secure visas. Other EU citizens to the states qualify for a reciprocal visa waiver program. The EU requires equal treatment for all its citizens, however, and negotiations reached an impasse over last year.
The New York Times reported that Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, was concerned that instating the ban would “have significant negative impacts in a wide range of policy areas, notably on external relations, trade, tourism and the E.U.’s economy.” He is optimistic that diplomatic efforts that have proved successful in Canada will also result in all EU citizens enjoying visa-free travel to the United States.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on visitors from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen is still on hold based on a decision from a federal judge.