The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines.
The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the Bush administration that officials in Brussels described as “blackmail” and “troublesome”, and could see west Europeans and Britons required to have US visas if their governments balk at Washington’s requirements.
According to a US document being circulated for signature in European capitals, EU states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America, senior EU officials said. […]
We have been here before and we have seen the results of this policy on visitor numbers to the USA.
And within months the US department of homeland security is to impose a new permit system for Europeans flying to the US, compelling all travellers to apply online for permission to enter the country before booking or buying a ticket, a procedure that will take several days.
I stand agog at the idiocy of these policies. It is illogical beyond belief. The USA needs to bolster international travel, yet does all it can to deter people from even over-flying their country. Trying to see why the USA would even contemplate such policies… I can only surmise that they will make some cash from extra visas. What other reason? To show their hairy balls to the rest of the world? Again? Saw them already, not impressed.
“The Americans are trying to get a beefing up of their visa-waiver programmes. It’s all contained in the MOU they want to put to all EU member states,” said a diplomat from a west European country. “It’s a very delicate problem.” […]
If the EU flat refused to comply what would Uncle Sam do? Deny travel? I think not. Even Dick Cheny didn’t shoot himself in the foot.
A senior EU official said the Americans could get “a gung-ho frontrunner” to sign up to the new regime and then use that agreement “as a rod to beat the other member states with”. The frontrunner appears to be the Czech Republic. On Wednesday, Richard Barth of the department of homeland security was in Prague to negotiate with the Czech deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra,
Prague hoped to sign the US memorandum “in the spring”, Vondra said. “The EU has done nothing for us on visas,” he said. “There was no help, no solidarity in the past. It’s in our interest to move ahead. We can’t just wait and do nothing. We have to act in the interest of our citizens.” […]
Data-rape is in the interest of your citizens? Submitting to blackmail and taking political bribes is in the interest of your citizens? Vondra and ther rest of the Czech government should be out of a job, immediately, to be replaced by someone who actually protects the interests of the citizens rather than selling them out for a bag of magic beans.
If the Americans persevere in the proposed security crackdown, Brussels is likely to respond with tit-for-tat action, such as calling for visas for some Americans.
European governments, however, would probably veto such action, one official said, not least for fear of the “massive disruption given the huge volume of transatlantic traffic“.
Money is the root of all evil. So the EU (We have to act in the interest of our citizens) is willing to cave in to protect business. Your privacy is worth less than trade. Your privacy has become a currency to be bartered for continued trade.
And we’ve not even mentioned (in this post, at least) the pointlessness of harvesting this data in the War On Trrr.
[Neither have we mentioned the spineless regurgitation of this tripe by the Grauniad, without opinion, without context, without understanding… ]
You know what to do.
Don’t go there!
There is evidence that the increased security measures have had a negative impact on the numbers of foreign tourists travelling to the US. Despite the weak dollar ($2 to £1), the number of British visitors to America fell by 11% between 2000 and 2006, while travel to other countries such as India, New Zealand and the Caribbean has increased.
Discover America, the private body responsible for promoting travel to the US, estimates that the 17 % fall in tourism since 9/11 has cost America $94bn in lost tourist spending and 200,000 jobs.
As we said.
Also, this pdf Blueprint To Discover America, supported by ‘some of Americas leading businesses’ is just laughable. They identify US-VISIT as the major negative factor in deterring foreign visitors, and what do they propose? Expansion of the US-VISIT programme and an ‘upgrade’ to US-VISIT 2.0!!!
The cite Project Iris as something to aspire to, where submitting to iris-scanning (and the associated holding of all your personal data) is A Good Thing, because by doing so you can be tagged as a State-Endorsed Trusted Individual.
However, what they make abundantly clear is that they are worried. And why? Because they are losing money. Can you see which side of this argument the real power lies? Each of us can make the decision not to give them any more until they stop treating visitors like criminals. It works! They admit it!
You know what to do.