Following a debate in the European Parliament on Monday, the S&D Group is urging all MEPs to vote to make sure the Commission takes the necessary action to ensure visa reciprocity with the United States is fully respected and free travel rights apply to all EU citizens equally.
The vote, which takes place on Wednesday, serves as a reminder of the Commission’s legal obligations but also highlights the risks of weakening the institution’s credibility as guardian of the treaties in failing to bring forward the temporary suspension of visa exemption through a delegated act as required.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar, S&D chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:
“Citizens in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania still need a visa to travel to enter the United States for short-stays, while all other EU citizens and US citizens can travel visa-free. The EU does not single out any US citizens by denying visa rights so the same must apply to all EU citizens. We cannot tolerate a situation where a third country treats a small number of Member States unfairly. We are calling on the Commission, as the guardian of the treaties, to follow its legal obligation and put into motion the suspension of visa reciprocity with the United States. This is not just a question abiding by EU law, but a question of standing by our principles of solidarity in Europe and making it clear that there are no second class citizens in the EU. This week, EPP MEPs have a chance to align with the majority which won the Committee vote and stand up for EU Law to send a message that it does not matter where in the EU you live, discrimination against any EU citizen is not acceptable.”
Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
“The European Commission’s inaction on visa reciprocity is totally inadmissible. In addition to the continued refusal by the US to treat EU citizens equally when it comes to granting visas, the Commission refuses to meet its legal obligations, which are clearly set out in the relevant regulation. But that is not the Commission’s choice to make. By failing to adopt a delegated act, the Commission is assuming a power that is does not have in the visa reciprocity rules, despite a ruling from the European Court of Justice confirming the position of the European Parliament and Council. What else will it take for the Guardian of the Treaties to defend the interests of all EU citizens?”