EU Envoy Confident Canada Working to Resolve Bulgaria Visa Concerns
The EU has been assured Canada is working to address concerns from Bulgaria and Romania over its entry visa requirement for their nationals, the EU’s envoy to Canada has said.
The EU’s ambassador to Canada Marie-Anne Coninsx on Tuesday expressed confidence a resolution is in the works in Canada for the concerns of the two countries which joined the EU in 2007, The Canadian Press reported.
The Toronto-based news agency highlighted fears expressed by some diplomats that if the visa requirement was not lifted, “one or both of those countries could block ratification of Canada's trade agreement with the EU.”
On August 5 Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that negotiators had finalized the text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU. Canada and the EU had been negotiating the new free trade and investment pact since May 2009.
"This is an issue that's not directly linked to the agreement, but this is something where it will have to be lifted," she said.
Coninsx added she hoped the visa issue will be resolved “in a constructive and concerted way" and agreed it was time Canada dropped the visa provision.
Also on Tuesday, an official with Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the federal government was working towards a visa-free Europe, The Canadian Press reported.
The official listed a number of criteria considered when deciding to introduce or scrap visas, including safety, security and immigration issues,human rights,border management and integrity of travel documents as well as the social and economic profile of a country.
Canada introduced visas for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals as well as citizens of the Czech Republic in a bid to halt an influx of bogus refugee claimants. The Czech visa requirement was lifted last year but Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said at the time the Romanian and Bulgarian ones would remain in force due to continued concerns over human smuggling and organized criminal groups.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy visited Ottawa last week. Both top EU officials appeared with Stephen Harper in an attempt to dispel concerns some European countries might derail the wide-ranging trade and investment pact with Europe, known as CETA.
The agreement will give Canada preferential access to the market of the 28-member European Union with its more than 500 million consumers.
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