Last Updated on August 26, 2016
Romania’s prime minister is threatening to vote against the crucial free trade deal between Canada and the European Union if visa-free travel is not granted to his people.
Dacian Ciolos, leader of the eastern European country, has been in Canada to hold talks with Justin Trudeau over the issue.
Ciolos said he was confident a visa agreement could be reached, but if it wasn’t the he wouldn’t be supporting the CETA trade deal.
He said the visa requirement ‘creates negative discrimination’ for Romanian citizens, and urged Canada PM Trudeau to begin the process of lifting this requirement.
Canada is currently negotiating on two crucial fronts with the EU, visa reciprocity and the CETA trade deal.
Romanians and Bulgarians both require visas to travel to Canada, and both are members of the Schengen Area of countries.
In 2014, the EU introduced a visa reciprocity rule into its constitution.
It means any country granted visa-free access to the Schengen Area needs to provide the same privilege the other way for all of the 28 member states.
Countries, including Canada and the US, were given a two-year grace period to make the amendment, and the deadline expired on April 12, but was extended to July 12.
Canadian officials say neither Romania nor Bulgaria meet their requirements for visa-free travel and that they ‘do not do it on reciprocity’, but agreed to make certain parts of the application process less onerous.
If an agreement is not reached by the new deadline, it could result in Canadians needing a visa to travel to Europe, although this would exclude the UK and Ireland.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called the situation a ‘looming crisis’.
The CETA deal further complicates the issue, threatening to derail an agreement that has taken seven years of negotiations to reach.
However, even if Romania and Bulgaria vote against it, officials still expect it to pass and come into force in early 2017.
It seems unlikely the Ukraine requirement will be lifted, while officials are frantically working towards removing the Mexican restriction ahead of the Three Amigos summit in Ottawa at the end of June.
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