Canada-EU trade: Ambassador confident visa concerns from Romania, Bulgaria will be resolved
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, September 30, 2014 6:11PM EDT
HALIFAX -- The European Union's ambassador says she's confident a resolution is in the works for concerns raised by Romania and Bulgaria over Canada's requirement travellers from those countries have visas.
Some diplomats fear one or both of those countries could block ratification of Canada's trade agreement with the EU if the visa requirement is not lifted.
Marie-Anne Coninsx says the visa issue is also one the EU doesn't like and that's been made clear to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"We have assurances the Canadians are working on that," Coninsx said in an interview Tuesday in Halifax.
"This is an issue that's not directly linked to the agreement, but this is something where it will have to be lifted."
Coninsx was asked whether it was time Canada dropped the visa provision.
"Yes," she said. "We hope that it will be solved in a constructive and concerted way."
An official with Citizenship and Immigration Canada said in an email Tuesday that the federal government is working towards a visa-free Europe.
Remi Lariviere said a number of criteria are considered when deciding whether to impose or lift a visa, including a country's socio-economic profile, immigration issues, the integrity of travel documents, safety and security issues, border management and human rights.
Coninsx's comments followed last week's visit to Ottawa by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. Both appeared with Harper in an attempt to dampen fears the deal might still be scuttled by some European countries after five tough years of negotiations.
They pledged to push for a speedy final ratification of the deal in Europe and among Canada's 13 provinces and territories.
Coninsx said the earliest that might happen under Europe's complex ratification process is 2016.
Concerns have also been raised in the German parliament over the language of the investor-state dispute mechanism contained in a leaked text of the deal.
Coninsx repeated the stance taken by the European Union's leadership during the Ottawa visit, saying that all 28 EU countries support the deal.