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US travel fee draws new dividing line with EU
Date 24/09/2010 14:27  Author webmaster  Hits 934  Language Global

24 SEP 2010

By Valentina Pop

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – A new transatlantic row is unfolding after the US introduced a $14 entry fee for EU travellers, with the European Commission analysing possible retaliatory measures. Meanwhile, US privacy officials are trying to alleviate concerns raised by MEPs over the collection of travellers' credit card data.

Introduced earlier this month, the fee, which can only be paid online via credit card, applies to EU tourists from 23 countries who do not require a visa to travel to the US. Travellers from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania continue to require a visa and pay different visa fees.

In a lively debate on Wednesday (22 September), EU parlamentarians slammed the unilateral move from the US side and called on the European Commission to consider retaliatory measures.

The commission has so far avoided saying the new Electronic Travel Authorisation System (Esta) is a form of hidden visa, despite MEPs pointing out that EU travellers who are refused by this system cannot board a plane to the US.

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