Visa-free travel between Canada and Europe remains in jeopardy after the deadline for an agreement came and went last week.
Now the April 12 date has been pushed to July 12, with urgent talks currently being held between officials from Canada and the European Union.
Should those discussions break down, it would mean Canadians would require a visa to travel to the 26 members of the EU’s Schengen Area, which excludes the UK and Ireland.
The EU’s reciprocal policy requires countries granted visa-free travel to provide the same privilege to Europeans.
Canada currently requires a visa for travellers from Romania and Bulgaria, but the EU served a notice two years ago saying this would need to end.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said that while restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians had been eased, Canada did not support a policy of visa reciprocity.
“We don’t do it in terms of reciprocity,” he said a day before the April 12 deadline. “We do it according to the conditions in each particular country, with a view to Canadians’ security and Canada’s well-being.”
An immigration department spokeswoman added: “Neither Romania nor Bulgaria currently meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption.”
Given the bureaucracy-heavy nature of the EU, any move to impose a visa restriction would take time to implement, especially given the surge in applications it would trigger.
A statement after the deadline expired said that before any decision was made, the EU must “extensively scrutinize and take into account potential adverse political consequences that might arise from such proposals or decisions.”
An Immigration Canada spokesperson added: “We are pleased that the Commission has chosen not to adopt an Act to impose a visa requirement on Canadian travellers to Europe at this time.
“Having fewer Canadians travelling to the EU due to a visa requirement could impact not only the EU’s tourism sector, but also political and economic relations — as well as established family ties.”
The US and Brunei are also impacted by the EU’s policy enforcement, while Japan and Australia reached agreements last year.
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