Breaking borders: European Parliament ends visa-free travel in EU for U.S. residents; may mean trouble for Olso stopovers


U.S. residents traveling to/from Svalbard appear highly likely to be affected if a European Parliament decision to end visa-free travel in Europe for U.S. residents takes effect. While Svalbard is outside the EU travel zone, most travelers usually have an overnight stopover in Oslo or other European city.

The commission passed the non-binding resolution Thursday, calling for it to become effective within two months. But member states would need to approve the new policy for it to take effect, a process analysts said could take years.

The move is a retaliatory action after the U.S. failed to agree to visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. If enacted, means U.S. residents will have to apply for visas to travel in all European countries for the next 12 months.

The commission discovered three years ago U.S. was not meeting its obligations under the reciprocity agreement, but the EU body has not taken previous legal action, according to The Independent. The delay in enacting the requirement for up to two months allows policymakers to consider further action.