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Visa reciprocity with US and Canada: Commission takes stock of latest developments


European Commission - Press release:

The European Commission has today adopted a Communication regarding the visa reciprocity situation with Canada and the United States, evaluating the progress achieved in discussions with both countries and setting out the next steps. Today's stock-taking follows the Communication adopted on 12 April where the Commission noted that full visa waiver reciprocity with Canada and the United States had not been achieved for citizens of some EU Member States.

Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "Achieving full visa waiver reciprocity for citizens of all Member States is the objective for the European Commission and a fundamental principle of our common visa policy. In the past three months, we have intensified contacts with the US and Canada to push for full visa waiver reciprocity. However, despite the constructive engagement in particular of the Canadian government, citizens from some EU Member States still need visas to travel to the US and Canada. We will continue to work towards full visa reciprocity and we will coordinate our activities with the Member States concerned, the European Parliament and the Council to accelerate the delivery of results."

The Commission's assessment of the consequences of a potential suspension of the visa waiver, presented in April, noted that this approach would have a substantial impact on the EU's external relations with Canada and the US. A suspension would very likely also lead to negative economic impacts for the EU, without bringing about full visa reciprocity. Therefore, the Commission invited the European Parliament and the Council to take a position on the most appropriate way forward by 12 July 2016. The Commission notes that the Council did not yet express a position on the matter and the European Parliament did not yet adopt a position in Plenary.

In recent months, contacts with the US and Canada have been intensified, including at the highest political level, to achieve full visa waiver reciprocity. With the Communication adopted today, the Commission commits to continue to push for full visa reciprocity and will coordinate its activities with the relevant Member States to accelerate the delivery of results.

In this regard, at the 11 July Ministerial meeting in Brussels, Canada undertook to inform in early autumn about the outcomes of the assessments and timelines for lifting the visa requirement, including on the necessary elements of cooperation with Bulgaria and Romania.  The Commission looks forward to the EU-Canada Summit, which will take place on 27-28 October 2016, as the occasion to confirm tangible progress on the lifting of the visa requirement for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens.

The Commission will work closely with both the European Parliament and the Council to ensure that the European Union speaks with one voice on this important matter and will report on the further progress made before the end of the year.

Today's Commission Communication also welcomes the lifting of visa requirements for Croatian citizens by Brunei on 12 April, ensuring full visa reciprocity for all EU citizens.