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news 24 Oct 16

Bulgaria, Romania Still Hope Canada Lifts Visas

While a Belgian region holds up the EU’s CETA deal with Canada, Romanians and Bulgarians hope to end visa requirements with Canada regardless of the outcome.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Photo: European People's Party/Flickr

As Monday’s deadline loomed for a Belgian region to decide on whether or not to support the vexed EU-Canada trade deal, Bulgaria and Romania say they believe it will not affect their chances of achieving visa-free travel to Canada.

The Belgian autonomous region of Wallonia is currently holding up the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, partly out of concerns that local products will lose their place on markets in favour of Canadian imports.

European Council President Donald Tusk was expected to inform Canada late on Monday whether the CETA signing can go ahead on Thursday.

“Given that visa-related negotiations are bilateral and not through the EU, they should be considered strictly bilateral obligations and not be affected by CETA,” said Silvia Martis-Tabusca, professor of Law at the Romanian-American University and head of the Center for Human Rights and Migration in Bucharest.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday said Romania would continue its bilateral negotiations with Canada on lifting visas, regardless of the outcome of talks on CETA.

Both Romania and Bulgaria in Brussels on Friday withdrew any remaining reservations about CETA, conditioned on the deal supporting the free movement of people.

“We worked all night with the European Commission and, together with the Romanian President and the Commission, received written confirmations that the visa regime with Canada will be lifted for Bulgarian citizens starting December 1, 2017,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stated on Friday.

Romania’s Iohannis has said he foresees a package mechanism under which Canada would be entitled to temporarily re-impose visas if the number of Balkan immigrants is too high.

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