The European Union should negotiate uniformly with the United States on visa-free relations, and should not allow individual EU member states to conduct such negotiations, said Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Justice and Security of the European Commission.
“We will begin negotiations with the United States. It is impossible to simply ignore, reject European legal acts, ”said Frattini in his speech in the European Parliament.
According to Reuters, the commissioner promised on Tuesday to solicit the EU member states for a mandate to start negotiations, which, according to him, are within the competence of the EU.
There is no certainty in providing such a mandate, as part of the EU member states, for their part, informed that bilateral negotiations with the United States do not contradict EU legal acts and the USA expressed a desire to conduct precisely bilateral negotiations.
Frattini noted that the allied countries can conduct separate cooperation with the United States, for example, on the exchange of intelligence or on aviation issues.
Last week, the Czech Republic aroused the dissatisfaction of the European Commission by signing a bilateral memorandum with the United States on the establishment of visa-free relations and air defense. Prague said that Brussels does not want to negotiate with the United States, since EU old-timers, with the exception of Greece, already have visa-free relations with the United States.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will meet with Frattini and other EU officials on Thursday in Slovenia, before which he plans to sign a memorandum on establishing visa relations with Estonia on Wednesday.
From Estonia, the memorandum will be signed by Minister of the Interior Jüri Pihl.
According to the Estonian Ministry of the Interior, the state will reinforce their common desire to strengthen cooperation between their law enforcement and legal institutions, increase readmission efficiency, and resolve airport security and travel document reliability with this document.
The parties will agree on a more precise form of cooperation and other details in an additional implementation agreement, which will be signed in the coming months.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the memorandum is one of the conditions for Estonia to join the program of visa-free relations with the United States.
Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary are also preparing to sign a memorandum of the same content.
The Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke in defense of the agreements, according to which they are associated with US law. Rice explained that agreements are concluded by countries that want no more than what EU old-timers already have in their relations with the United States.
12 EU countries did not join the visa-free relations program, including Greece and all states that joined the EU after 2004, except for Slovenia.