The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visa-free access to nationals of five EU countries. In a resolution approved on Thursday, MEPs urge the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months”.
The text prepared by the Civil Liberties Committee was adopted by a show of hands.
Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still cannot enter US territory without a visa, while US citizens can travel to all EU countries visa-free.
According to the visa reciprocity mechanism, if a third country does not lift its visa requirements within 24 months of being notified of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a delegated act – to which both Parliament and the Council may object – suspending the visa waiver for its nationals for 12 months.
Following a notification of non-reciprocity on 12 April 2014, the Commission should have acted before 12 April 2016 but it has yet to take any legal measure. Canada also imposes visa requirements on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, but it has announced that they will be lifted on 1 December 2017.
In April 2014, the European Commission was notified that five countries were not meeting their obligations towards the EU with regard to reciprocity of visa-free travel: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan and the US.
Australia, Brunei and Japan have since lifted their visa requirements for all EU citizens and Canada will do so in December this year.
According to the 2016 Democracy Index almost one-half of the world’s countries can be considered to be democracies of some sort, but the number of “full democracies” has declined from 20 in 2015 to 19 in 2016. The US has been downgraded from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” because of a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials there. The “democratic recession” worsened in 2016, when no region experienced an improvement in its average score and almost twice as many countries (72) recorded a decline in their total score as recorded an improvement (38). Eastern Europe experienced the most severe regression. The 2016 Democracy Index report, Revenge of the “deplorables”, examines the deep roots of today’s crisis of democracy in the developed world, and looks at how democracy fared in every region.
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The decision on the EU- U.S. Privacy Shield was adopted by the European Commission on 12 July. As of today, companies are able to sign up to the Privacy Shield with the U.S. Department of Commerce who will then verify that their privacy policies comply with the high data protection standards required by the Privacy Shield. Today, the European Commission also publishes a guide for citizens explaining how individuals’ data protection rights are guaranteed under the Privacy Shield and what remedies are available for individuals, if they consider their data has been misused and their data protection rights have not been respected. Věra Jourová, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield protects the fundamental rights of Europeans and ensures legal certainty for businesses, including European companies, transferring personal data to the U.S. The Privacy Shield ensures easier redress for individuals in case of any complaints. I am therefore confident that the Privacy Shield will restore the trust of Europeans in the way their personal data are transferred across the Atlantic and processed by companies there. I encourage companies to sign up and I invite citizens to find out about their rights under the Privacy Shield in the ‘citizens’ guide’ we are publishing today”. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shields guarantee that everyone in the EU has a number of rights when their data is processed, such as the right to ask a company for further information about the data they hold about them, or to amend their records if the data are outdated or inaccurate. Also they will benefit from several accessible and affordable dispute resolution mechanisms. Ideally, the complaint will be resolved by the company itself; or free of charge Alternative Dispute resolution (ADR) solutions will be offered. Individualscan also go to their national Data Protection Authorities, who will work with the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission to ensure that complaints by EU citizens are investigated and resolved. If a case is not resolved by any of the other means, as a last resort there will be an arbitration mechanism. Redress regarding possible access to personal data for national security purposes will be handled by a new Ombudspersonindependent from the US intelligence services. More information on the Privacy Shield are available in the 12 July press release and Q&A, as well as in the Official Journal.
At the conclusion of the 13th round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), held in New York in April 2016, discussions between the European Union and the United States had succeeded in covering all of the agreement’s chapters. The 14th round of negotiations takes place in Brussels from 11–15 July 2016.
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Commissioner Malmström will today be travelling to Paris to attend the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting today and tomorrow, which will focus specifically on measures to increase productivity in order to bring about inclusive growth. The Commissioner will notably take part in a session on the contribution of trade and investment to this important goal. In the margins of the OECD Ministerial, Commissioner Malmström will attend an informal ministerial gathering of a group of WTO members. Building on the successful ministerial in Nairobi last year, the goal is to reinvigorate the WTO negotiating agenda through new approaches and proposals across a range of issues that pose challenges for global trade. Commissioner Malmström will also chair a ministerial meeting on the negotiations for an agreement on trade in Services (TiSA), which takes place in parallel with the ongoing 18th round of negotiations in Geneva. At this meeting, the Commissioner will focus on bringing about a common understanding on the steps needed to bring this deal to a successful conclusion, following the Davos Ministerial earlier this year which called for a swift conclusion of the negotiations. In line with its commitment to transparency, the Commission published last week its revised TiSA offer. In addition, Commissioner Malmström will attend a ministerial meeting on negotiations for an Environmental Goods Agreement, as well as a series of bilateral meetings with important commercial partners. Today, before leaving to Paris, Commissioner Malmström will take part in a panel discussion at the European Business Summit on the topic of an EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), together with the Canadian Minister for International Trade Chrystia Freeland
On 1-2 June Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová will participate on behalf of the Commission in the EU-US Ministerial meeting on Justice and Home Affairs, taking place in Amsterdam. The EU-US Ministerial on Justice and Home Affairs is held twice a year with the aim of promoting Trans-Atlantic cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime and strengthening the rights of citizens in this context. Participants will also include the Netherlands EU Council Presidency and the incoming Slovak EU Council Presidency, the European External Action Service and a number of European agencies. The United States will be represented by Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. Commissioner Jourová and Attorney-General Lynch are set to sign the EU-US Data Protection Umbrella Agreement, which will enhance the data protection rights of individuals when their personal data is collected for law enforcement purposes, and thereby ensure legal certainty for swift and efficient cooperation in the fight against crime, including terrorism. The EU and the US will also review the functioning of the 2010 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that ensures effective criminal justice cooperation across the Atlantic, as well as recent legislative developments in combatting money laundering and terrorism financing. They will also discuss migration and asylum and will exchange views on their respective visa policies, on information sharing in the context of security, on counterterrorism and the fight against transnational organised crime. For more information on the EU-US Data Protection Umbrella Agreement see the latest statement and Q&A.The signature of the agreement on 2 June will be broadcast live on EbS
Until quite recently, the geo-strategic view of Europe from Washington has been extraordinarily consistent since the end of the Cold War. At base, this view holds that Europe is important to the United States. But it also holds that Europe is the most stable, the most prosperous, and potentially the most self-sufficient region of the world. For the last three decades, the US approach to Europe has focused on getting Europe to provide for its own security and even, optimistically, to become an exporter of stability in its broader neighbourhood to the East and South. This view does not mean that Washington policymakers think Europe is unimportant to US interests, as Europeans often assume. On the contrary, US policymakers understand very well that Europe is the most important region of the world for the United States. This is reflected not simply in statistics that show that Europe is America’s largest trading and investment partner, not just in the fact that Europe is the only other center of democratic prosperity, or that the nations of Europe are America’s most powerful and effective allies. It is also resides in a more ineffable cultural connection. Americans see themselves in Europe. Relatively speaking, Americans do not seek approval from foreign audiences, but international legitimacy is still important to the broad American public. More importantly, to judge by the way outside opinion is described in the United States, the source of that legitimacy is clear. Americans look to Europe as the first outside judge of the legitimacy of their foreign policy and even domestic policy debates. It matters little to Americans sense of righteousness how a policy is received in Beijing or Moscow. European judgements, in contrast, contain moral worth and thus political weight in American debates.
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We are delighted to invite you to the debate organised by PubAffairs Bruxelles which will be held on Tuesday the 14th of June at 19.00 at the premises of Science14 Atrium, rue de la Science, 14-B, Brussels. The debate will be on what can TTIP deliver for the citizens in the EU.
Although speakers and event details will be specified in the coming days, we are announcing this event now to make sure you save the date.
This event is kindly sponsored by
About the debate
The European Union and the United States have the world’s most advanced economic relationship. To further this relationship, negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were launched in July 2013. They are now entering a crucial phase with the ambition on both sides to reach an agreement by the end of 2016. During their recent meeting at Hannover Messe in April, German Chancellor Merkel and US President Obama have called for an acceleration of TTIP talks.
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This study, provided by the Policy Department A at the request of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), aims to assess whether and to which extent European energy markets and manufacturing industries would be affected by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Although the negotiations are currenly on-going, the analysis shows that the TTIP will improve the EU’s security of energy supply through adding liquidity and competition to the natural gas market. The TTIP will not directly lower either environmental or social legislation, but the study recommends the ITRE Committee to be aware of the potential for weakening of legislation implementation such as REACH and FQD.
Read the full Study here