That Other US-EU Travel Spat Over "Visas"

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/07/2009 12:37:00 AM
I have held off making a post on the result of the US vs. EU, Boeing vs. Airbus ruling that I foreshadowed a few days ago for the details are still murky. Only two copies of the ruling have been distributed--to the US and the EC. From what I gather so far, it is a less-than-comprehensive victory for the America, although the USTR would probably beg to differ. In any event, the IELP has a rundown of the articles on it if you're hungry for more.

In the meantime, be informed that another spat over trade-related travel is brewing. Some genius US congressmen have thought of hitting up European travelers to the US with a $10 fee for the purpose of, er, promoting tourism. In the past, (Western) European travelers to the US have been able to travel to America without a visa. However, the EU is now charging that the scheme being proposed poses additional hurdles to European travelers similar to having to file for a visa. From the Associated Press:
The European Union is strongly criticizing a congressional proposal to charge a $10 fee to some visitors to the United States and suggesting it may carry a price for U.S. travelers. If it passes, the EU says, some U.S. travelers to Europe could face retaliation. The fee now under consideration in Congress would finance a new U.S. program to promote travel, a burden that the EU believes Americans should bear.

"Only in `Alice in Wonderland' could a penalty be seen as promoting the activity on which it is imposed," the European Commission's Ambassador to Washington, John Bruton, said in a statement Friday. One of the bill's sponsors, Democratic Rep. William Delahunt, said the EU was getting too worked up over what he called "a nominal fee."

But Europeans see the issue as yet another potential hassle that the United States is preparing to burden Europe's citizens with. Visitors from most European countries have long enjoyed the privilege of visa-free travel to the United States. Early, this year, however, the United States began requiring people traveling to the United States under the visa waiver program to register online at least 72 hours before travel and renew their registration every two years. If the new proposal is passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, it would require all visitors to pay the fee when they register.
So much for liberalizing tourism "services trade"! This is a dumb idea through and through.