Many countries around the world have a policy of reciprocal border treatment -- I once traveled to Uganda and the visa payment demanded at the border varied on your citizenship, based on what your country charged Ugandans to travel there; likewise, after the US started fingerprinting visitors, Brazil starting fingerprinting Americans (and only Americans!) at the border.
The EU, though, is a slightly different matter. Its 28 member-states, with 500,000,000 residents, are bound together in a (sometimes frayed and imperfect) solidarity pact. The USA has decided that citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Cyprus -- some of the EU's poorest states (mostly ex-Eastern Bloc states) -- need visas, and as of 2021 all US visitors to the core group of 26 "Schengen" EU states will need to apply for
a visa visa-like entry paperwork before they are allowed to enter.
To apply for the ETIAS, US citizens will need a valid passport, an email account and a credit or debit card, the EU said. Minors, the website said, will still only need their normal passports to travel after the visas go into effect.
The Union said that the ETIAS visa is valid for three years and allows Americans to enter the Schengen Area as many times as necessary. On the ETIAS website, the European Union said it "has recently decided to improve their security level to avoid any further problems with illegal migration and terrorism."
United States citizens will need a visa to visit Europe starting in 2021 [Lauren M. Johnson and Madeline Holcombe/CNN]
(Image: Frogsprog, CC-BY-SA)
(Thanks, Kathy Padilla!)