Tit for Tat
EU Overreach on Visas

Brussels is bandying about a particularly boneheaded move. The New York Times:

The European Union is stepping up pressure on the United States to add more European countries to the list of those whose citizens can travel across the Atlantic without a visa, holding out the threat of requiring Americans to get visas for trips to Europe if Washington does not agree.

The European Commission is expected to consider on Tuesday whether to change the visa requirements for Americans if their government does not agree to include additional European Union member states — Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania — on the list of those entitled to visa-free travel.

This is the kind of question that the EU would be wise to drop: it is more likely that the U.S. would impose visa restrictions on countries like France and Belgium than that it would lift restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania. More to the point, requiring U.S. citizens to get visas for Europe would be a major blow to the tourism industry. People don’t like hassles. And does the EU really want to discourage U.S. companies from investing there?

In terms of easing visa restrictions for countries like Poland, we should be looking for some creative compromises. Illegal immigration is a serious problem in the United States, and countries that are significantly poorer than we are, and that have a history of emigration, pose larger than normal risks. But the most urgent concerns the U.S. has now about visas in Europe are less about immigration than about security. Thinking about ways to improve security coordination (and upgrade the effectiveness of security services and policing in countries that have significant internal problems) is important if we are to preserve easy and free transatlantic travel.

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