E.U. Members Express Concerns About U.S. Travel Regulations Related to Health, HIV/AIDS
European Union member countries on Thursday expressed concerns about U.S. plans that could require visitors to provide personal health details, including information about their HIV/AIDS status, before they enter the country, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports.
The U.S. last week announced plans to introduce a Web-based, pretravel authorization system for foreigners wanting to enter the country. U.S. officials said the program would apply to people coming from countries that are part of the U.S. visa-free travel program and would include questions concerning communicable diseases. Questions about communicable diseases already are asked on paper forms that travelers are required to complete and present to U.S. border agents when they enter the country. Online registration would be mandatory for all visa-free travel by Jan. 12, 2009, the AP/Herald Tribune reports. The new regulations are scheduled to take effect in August.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said some E.U. countries are questioning whether such health information is necessary, especially information about sexually transmitted infections. He added that whether an STI is "contagious in the stricter sense is a question that you could write a doctoral thesis about." Slovenia Interior Minister Dragutin Mate said that some E.U. countries have questions about the health-related information required. However, he added that E.U. countries "have to be aware ... we cannot change the law of another country." U.S. officials have said that the new system will not amount to a new visa but simply replace the current forms visitors are required to complete when they enter the country. E.U. ministers have provisionally supported plans to introduce a similar register in Europe for visitors from the U.S. and other countries entering E.U. nations that participate in the E.U.'s passport-free travel zone (AP/International Herald Tribune, 6/5).