The Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament proposes to strengthen visa reciprocity requirements

Members of the Civil Liberties Committee of the Parliament have approved an amendment to the proposed revision of the visa regulation in order to strengthen the mechanisms aimed at ensuring reciprocity on visa requirements. The principle of reciprocity entails that a third country whose citizens benefit from a visa waiver must give equal treatment to citizens from all EU Member states.

These amendments to the proposed revision of the current visa regulation are aimed at providing the Union with mechanisms to force third countries whose citizens are not required to get a visa when entering the EU, to give the same treatment to all citizens of the European Union. In the event that a third country refuses to remove visa restrictions on EU citizens on reciprocal basis, the Commission may propose a temporary suspension of visa waiver for the said country. However, MEPs stressed the need to take into account and respect the Union's external interests in order to give a balanced response.

The Commission proposal provides for the possibility of temporarily suspensions of visa waivers in certain cases of emergency. This provisions aims at providing a way to respond to large flows of asylum seekers in cases when visa requirements have been removed. Such measures, which can only be requested by Member states in exceptional situation and as a last resort, may be activated by the Commission after a a case by case study for a period of one year.

The text of the amendments to the proposed revision to the visa regulation must now obtain the approval of the Parliament and the Council. The new text aims to tackle cases such as the United States and Canada that still require visas to European citizens as from Bulgaria, Poland or Romania.