Centre-right majority wreaks havoc on visa and neighbourhood policy

Visa, Immigration, Asylum

The centre-right forces in the European Parliament (the European People's Party, conservatives and liberals) were strongly criticised today in Strasbourg for passing a proposal paving the way for a temporary suspension of the system that allows non-EU nationals to enter the EU without a visa. This decision will also affect EU citizens who are still not exempted from the USA and Canada visa-waiver programmes.

S&D MEP Tanja Fajon, who steered the adoption of the visa-free reform through the European Parliament, said:

"Once again, the European People's Party joins with the conservative and populist forces in the European Parliament against European citizens' security and freedom of movement – a fundamental human right!

"A change to the reciprocity mechanism and a temporary suspension of the visa-free regime are potentially dangerous and harmful for EU citizens – some of whom will be allowed to enter the USA or Canada without a visa while some others will not – and for our neighbouring countries.

"It is unacceptable that the EPP and Liberals gave up the European Parliament's powers on visa policy, creating legal chaos that may well end up before the European Court of Justice.  

"This decision could have very harmful consequences for the enlargement process. It could also further strengthen anti-European sentiments and intolerance towards minorities, often including asylum-seekers.

"The reintroduction of visas for Western Balkan nationals would be utterly unjustified. The number of false asylum-seekers has decreased since last year.

"The centre-right majority in the Parliament is riding the populist wave, allowing European governments to decide on the future of visa and neighbourhood policy without democratic oversight from the European Parliament and citizens."