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Brussels, 6 August 2010.

Commissioner Malmström Statement on the publication of the interim ESTA rule

On 6 August 2010, in accordance with the legal obligations under the Travel Promotion Act (TPA), the U.S. Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection announced the publication of the interim rule on a Travel Promotion Fee and a Fee for Use of the System of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which will become effective on 8 September 2010. This already known interim rule requires ESTA applicants to pay a fee of $ 14.00, which is the sum of the $10 travel promotion fee defined in the legislation and a fee of $ 4.00 (now defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security) to ensure the recovery of the full costs of providing and administering the ESTA.

In December 2008 the Commission carried out an assessment of the interim ESTA rule, concluding that at that stage the interim ESTA system was not to be considered as tantamount to a visa application process as defined in the Common Consular Instructions (now the Visa Code).

The Commission will carry out a definitive assessment once the Final Rule on Esta will be published by the US Federal authorities. The ESTA fee requirement will of course be an additional factor in the final assessment that the Commission will prepare.

Commenting today's announcement, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, stated: "I understand that today's decision is taken in accordance with the Travel Promotion Act's obligations. Nevertheless, I regret very much the fee established by the interim rule. I have repeatedly raised concerns about the introduction of this fee and I remain convinced that these new requirements applicable only to travellers under the Visa Waiver Program, are inconsistent with the commitment of the U.S. to facilitate transatlantic mobility and will be an additional onus for European citizens travelling to the U.S.".

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