Monday, April 04, 2005

EU / US Visa war on the horizon

Buried by all the news coverage of the Pope's death it appears that Brussels has raised the prospect of an EU/US visa war. This has the potential to seriously damage business and indeed inconvenience citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. The following, from the linked text, appears at the Financial Times;

The European Union might consider demanding visas of US citizens if the US Congress sticks to an October deadline for EU countries to start issuing high-tech biometric passports, European officials warned on Friday.

............. Under the new US rules, passengers with fresh passports issued after the deadline must have a biometric version - which includes a digital photograph embedded on a chip - or apply for a visa, which can take weeks.

The threat of imposing visas on passengers from most of the 27 currently visa-exempt countries, which include 15 EU states, worries US business, in particular, the tourism sector.

US companies and universities have also complained about tighter US border policies, with visitors sometimes facing lengthy waits even to obtain a visa interview.