It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
EU warns on proposed US travel fees
DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press Writer Desmond Butler, Associated Press Writer – Fri Sep 4, 6:31 pm ET
WASHINGTON – 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.
The money would pay for a travel promotion campaign run as a public-private partnership. Among its aims would be educating foreign visitors on U.S. entry procedures, including the online registration for visa free travel.
Sponsors have been promoting the law as cost-free to the U.S. taxpayer. The EU thinks it should not be.
Bruton said the EU will have to reconsider whether the U.S. registration system with the new fee would amount to a visa. The EU might then have to consider visas for U.S. travelers.