How Visa Restrictions Impede CETA Progress FeaturedWritten by ENBlogger
When reading about major issues CETA (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) negotiators are stuck on, we usually stumble upon topics such as meat production, product origin, or patent protection. But one of the problems European negotiators claim that are still on the table are visa restrictions.
It makes logical sense to have visa restrictions lifted across countries with whom one has a free trade agreement signed (though many countries still keep such travel restrictions in place despite a free trade agreement ). This is because international business often requires international travel. Since it is expected that CETA will facilitate more trade between Canada and EU, it is also expected that the amount of travel between the two will increase. A visa requirement will pose an unnecessary bottleneck for business people from countries for whom visa requirements are still imposed, at the same time making it unfair to those players.
So far Canada has visa restrictions on three EU members: Bulgaria, Romania, and Czech Republic. After initial lifting of visa requirements for many of central and eastern European countries in 2008, visas were yet again slapped on Czech Republic due to a highly increased number of refugee claims. Bulgaria and Romania have always had Canadian visa restrictions in place.
Since all three countries are memebers of the EU, this issue causes problems. The most obvious of these problems is a political one. If CETA negotiators finally agree and the document is signed, it still needs to be ratified by national legislatures of member states. So yes, the document would have to be ratified by Bulgaria, Romania, and Czech Republic. And that could be tricky if visa requirements are still in place.
I must admit I am not sure what would happen if these three nations do not ratify CETA. Would EU still go ahead? I believe it’s very likely it would. However, as one can see, this is a sticky issue that is often omitted in media reports.
So what is Canada’s plan with regards to visas for these three countries? According to now former Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, we are still most likely a couple years away from these visa restrictions being lifted. This is because before that happens, says Mr. Kenney, Canada would need to implement a new screening system for most visa-free travellers, also called the electronic travel authorization.
I will not get into details why restrictions exist for these particular three countries, as this is not in the scope of this article. However, it is worth remembering that this is yet another sticky issue that may plague CETA negotiators.
However, there’s also another side to this story. The European Union is preparing itself for free trade talks with the ever almighty United States, a country that still keeps visa restrictions for many more than three EU members. Therefore, if this issue becomes a sticky point for the EU negotiators, they are setting themselves up for a huge battle with Canada’s big brother. Therefore, maybe it would be a better idea to separate economic from social issues, however connected they might be, and make these talks finally conclude?
Well, time will show. Meanwhile, I invite you all to learn more about CETA and what it will mean for your business at Europe Now Show on September 24.
Until next time,
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