EU-Canada FTA Uncertain: Romania and Bulgaria to Block the Deal over Visa

Written by | Monday, May 16th, 2016

Bulgaria and Romania have joined their forces to veto the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada due to Ottawa’s refusal to waive visa requirements for their nationals. Both countries now propose the FTA to be postponed in an effort to put pressure on both Canada and the EU Member States to solve the visa issue. The CETA has been described by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström as the best free trade agreement that the EU has signed so far. It was agreed in 2014 but it is still to be signed and ratified.

In a joint letter sent by the ambassadors of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, both countries express their disappointment by the way the Commission deals with the reciprocity mechanism in EU legislation visa matters. “We are disappointed by the way chosen by the European Commission to proceed further with the reciprocity mechanism. We expect the Commission to implement the relevant provisions and regulations, thus safeguarding the Treaties and their fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination for all European citizens”, the ambassadors write.

Canada offers a visa-free travel to all EU Member States with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania while the United States also excludes Poland, Croatia and Cyprus. Ottawa says that Romania and Bulgaria still do not meet the requirements to waive the visa and as such it has not been able to fulfill its promise given at the 2014 EU-Canada summit to solve this issue. The European Commission on the other hand tried to enforce the reciprocity mechanism, though it decided in mid-April that the consequences of the EU imposing visas to Canada and the USA would be so dire that the mechanism could not be applied in this particular case.

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