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EU to open negotiations with U.S. on visa waiver program
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15:51, April 19, 2008

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The European Union (EU) has authorized its executive branch, the European Commission (EC), to open negotiations with the United States on a visa waiver program (VWP) allowing citizens of EU countries to visit the United States for three months without a visa.

The EU's common goal is to ensure that all member states are admitted in the U.S. VWP "as soon as possible," EC Vice-President Jacques Barrot said.

Greece and most new EU members from Eastern Europe are currently excluded from the program.

Washington has imposed new security requirements as a precondition for expanding the visa waiver program.

It demands that all 27 EU nations accept a new electronic travel authorization system under which travelers would register with U.S. authorities before beginning their journey. The precondition has aroused data protection and privacy concerns.

The visa waiver program is not applicable to Ireland and the United Kingdom as they are not party to the EU's common visa policy.

Source: Xinhua

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