Bush Demands Europe Step Up Flight Security

EU leaders accuse US of 'blackmail,' call requests 'absurd'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2008 12:50 PM CST
An Alitalia airplane sits on the tarmac next to an Air France plane at Fiumicino airport, 18 December 2007 in Rome. Alitalia's board of directors was set to decide, 18 december 2007, which of two rival...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – In a move some EU officials call blackmail, the Bush administration is demanding that EU members implement a wide range of new air security measures. The US wants American air marshals on all inbound flights, an online screening permit process for all US-bound passengers, and personal information on anyone flying to or even over the country, the Guardian reports.

Bush is playing hardball, saying countries that fail to comply will lose access to visa-free travel to the States. That could prove to be the wedge he needs: EU members that don't already participate in the visa waiver program, mostly Eastern European countries, are eager to join. Community leaders are calling for solidarity, but Prague already seems willing to sign on.