The International Air Association (IATA) has called on EU and North American governments to resolve what it describes as a looming crisis for the EU–US/Canada visa waiver program. Currently, most EU citizens can visit the US and Canada without having to apply for a visa, with US and Canadian citizens being granted similar visa-free access to EU states.
Canada and the US, however, require nationals from some EU states to obtain visas. Canada requires visas for nationals from Bulgaria and Romania while the US requires visas for nationals from Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Cyprus, and Poland.
In January 2014 a reciprocity clause was included in the Schengen legislation. Under that clause, visa-free access to EU countries (except UK and Republic of Ireland) can only be granted to citizens of a third country if that third country offers reciprocal visa-free access.
The European Parliament and the Council have until July 12, 2016, to advise the European Commission on whether the provisions of the 2014 reciprocity amendment should be enforced for Canadian and US citizens.
According to the European Travel Commission, more than 30 million Canadian and US tourists visit Europe each year, spending over $54 billion.
IATA’s Regional Vice President Europe, Rafael Schvartzman, commented: “Nobody wants to risk the economic consequences of introducing new requirements for travellers from Canada and the US to Europe. We are calling on the EU institutions to agree upon a proportionate approach, in cooperation with their US and Canadian counterparts.”