Canada’s Immigration Minister John McCallum will fly to the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels on Sunday as the deadline looms in the wrangle over travel visas.
With discussions on visa requirements increasingly linked to the ratification of a crucial trade deal, McCallum must tread a fine line after the uncertainty created by Britain’s vote to exit the EU.
Romania and Bulgaria are set to veto the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) if Canada does not grant their citizens visa-free travel as part of new EU reciprocity rules.
Canada has previously said neither country meets requirements for visa-free travel, with McCallum stating ‘we don’t do it in terms of reciprocity’.
But Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos visited Canada in June and it said to have agreed to work together with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to solve the issue.
The EU had been expected to ratify CETA at European Parliament level, but after turbulence created by the so-called ‘Brexit’ vote, part of the ratification process will now take place at state level, meaning it must pass through the individual parliaments of all 28 members.
|Key Facts on Canada-EU Visa Reciprocity
||Key Facts on CETA
Canada’s International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has been leading the negotiations and is confident the majority of the deal will be in place by 2017.
Romania’s Ciolos directly linked his country’s support for CETA to the visa reciprocity requirement during his trip, saying: “There’s no way the Romanians could accept being treated as secondary EU nationals.”
Romania sees its case for visa-free travel as stronger than Mexico’s. The Mexicans were granted visa-free access to Canada in June for the first time since 2009, when the restriction was imposed because of a huge number of asylum claims.
Trudeau is understood to have granted the privilege against the advice of officials from Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada.
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