The EU is planning to impose a de-facto “visa regime” for American citizens in 2021.
The move is certainly symbolic but it’s only circumstantial and wasn’t anything preplanned to send a message to Trump like some people are portraying it as. The bloc will require Americans to complete the online “European Travel Information and Authorization System” prior to their trip as part of its enhanced security measures, though it’s also a somewhat asymmetric response to a long-running issue between Brussels and Washington. The EU has always been upset that the US doesn’t allow visa-free travel for some of its members like Poland and Romania, for instance, which the bloc regards as discriminatory but Americans have defended as necessary in order to prevent the widespread illegal immigration of economic migrants from those comparatively less developed countries who might exploit that privilege to disappear into society.
In fact, the EU had been talking about responding to this state of affairs for some time but was reluctant to do so out of concern that imposing additional bureaucratic difficulties might scare off American tourists who would just spend their money elsewhere. That’s why the “compromise” solution of ETIAS was created, which technically functions as a visa in the sense that American travelers will need it in order to enter the bloc after 2021 but doesn’t involve the potentially costly and time-consuming embassy visits and interviews that actual visas sometimes require. Americans will therefore not be inconvenienced and consider traveling somewhere else instead, while the Europeans will have comparatively greater control over their borders and show Poland and the handful of other states that Brussels is “standing up” to Washington.
All in all, this whole issue is a bunch of hullabaloo over nothing because the average American can easily spend a few minutes filling out ETIAS and this additional security measure doesn’t really change anything at all in a practical sense. Most people don’t just wake up one day and decide to hop on a plane and take a week-long vacation to Europe since they need to plan for this in advance, request vacation time from work, and save up money for their trip, so throwing in a minor bureaucratic step that airline companies might conveniently remind them to fill out when purchasing their tickets isn’t going to make a difference in whether they go to Europe or not. Pundits will expectedly try to spin this however they want, but it’s really not a big deal.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review