EU criticizes Czech-U.S. visa deal


EU officials have criticized the Czech-U.S. memorandum of understanding that paves the way for the inclusion of the Czech Republic in the U.S. visa-waiver programme. Citing European Commission sources, the Brussels-based daily Europolitics reported on Thursday that the bilateral Czech-American deal might “scupper” the current agreement between the United States and the old EU member states on data transfers concerning passengers travelling to the U.S. by air. Slovenian Interior Minister Dragutin Mate, whose country currently presides over the European Union, said that most EU countries want to negotiate visa agreements with the United States under a common strategy. Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer rejected the criticism saying that the Czech-U.S. memorandum is in line with EU legislation. Mr Langer also pointed out that the Czech Republic had been waiting for four years for the EU to take action leading to the abolishing of U.S. visas for the new EU countries, and only then did the Czechs start negotiating with the Bush administration.