President Klaus Iohannis on Friday announced that Romania had reached an agreement with the Canadian side on the visa waiver for Romanians, with the lift to be enforced as of next year.
“I have good news. An agreement was reached with the Canadian side this morning, a reasonable agreement for both sides and this way we are in the right position to withdraw our standby to the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Romania has no objections to the Economic Agreement with Canada. It’s a pretty good deal,” said Iohannis while in Brussels.
He informed that visas for the Romanians who want to go to Canada and who had visas before would be lifted starting May 1, 2017, and for all Romanians as of December 1, 2017.
The Romanian President mentioned though that a ”snap pack” mechanism is also stipulated, saying that if the number of immigrants is significantly high, the Canadian side reserves its right to temporarily re-introduce the visa regime.
“This snap pack clause is valid for maximum 3 years, and after that it cannot be revoked anymore only under the international general circumstances,” added Iohnnis.
The President also informed that the agreement with the Canadian side becomes valid if the CETA Agreement is signed.
Indeed, the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed on Friday afternoon that the proposal of visa lifting for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens when going to Canada would materialize only if the CETA Agreement was signed, expressing hope that Belgium will accept to sign it, too.
On October 14th the regional parliament of Wallonia voted to block the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the trade deal between the European Union and Canada.
PM Ciolos: Intense contacts with Canada
In his turn, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos said on Friday that over the recent days he had “intense contacts” with the Canadian side on the visa waiver programme for Romanians, pointing out that it was important for Romania that the visa requirement lifting take place in 2017 and not in 2018.
“We intensified dialogue with the Canadian side sometime this summer. (…) After consistent talks, we agreed that it is important that Romania be able to ratify the commercial agreement between Canada and the European Union and solve this problem on visa lifting for Romanian citizens. The Canadian prime minister had pledged that a solution would be sought. As you have seen, that solution was found. Even over the recent days, we had intense contacts with the Canadian side. To us, it was important to have the confirmation that the visa requirement lifting takes place in 2017 and not in 2018, as it was initially proposed,” Ciolos stated.
The Romanian prime minister added that, although there will be a few months’ lagging behind between the moment of the Canada — EU agreement coming into force and that of the visa lifting, it is still important that a solution to this situation was found.
Canada sent to Bucharest and Sofia the proposal that visas are to be lifted in steps until May 2018 at the latest.
Unlike the Bulgarian officials, the Romanian authorities were dissatisfied with the deadline, asking for another deadline sometime in 2017.
“The negotiations, from the Romanian side’s point of view, are not over yet, talks are ongoing on the deadline and the schedule for the complete waiving of visas for the Romanian citizens,” governmental sources say, according to capital.ro.
PM Dacian Ciolos and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had talks in September in New York, expressing at the time confidence in good prospects for waiving the visas soon for Romanians travelling to Canada.
Romanians and Bulgarians are the only EU citizens needing a visa to enter Canada.
With an October signing date now set for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada must act — or risk a veto by countries who don’t appreciate their nationals being treated as second-class EU citizens.
In April, Canada and the United States were given an additional three months to comply with the EU’s policy of visa reciprocity: countries whose citizens don’t need EU visas must, in return, allow visa-free travel for all EU nationals.