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EU Parliament Seeks To Reinstate Visas For American Travelers

Saying that the U.S. still requires citizens of five EU member nations to obtain an entry visa, the European Union's Parliament approved a measure on Thursday calling for the EU Commission to urge full visa reciprocity — and reinstate visa requirements for Americans who want to visit Europe.

The U.S. currently requires citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania to obtain visas before visiting. The EU Parliament's move sets a two-month deadline for the EU Commission to act if the U.S. doesn't change its policy — but the Commission says it may not respond until this summer, according to Reuters.

If it is reintroduced, the visa requirement would be temporary, the EU says.

The EU resolution cites rules requiring the organization's executive body to take action against any nations that haven't offered full visa reciprocity. The rules set a two-year warning period before action is taken — and because the initial warning to the U.S. went out in April 2014, it expired last year.

The U.S. was warned along with Canada, Australia, Brunei and Japan.

"Australia, Brunei and Japan have since lifted their visa requirements for all EU citizens and Canada will do so in December this year," the EU resolution states.

Visitors who enter the U.S. under its Visa Waiver Program must still be approved by ESTA — the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

As the U.S. State Department says, "ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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