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NEWS: European Parliament votes against Canadian visas for Czech citizens

The Czech Press Agency reports that, “The European Parliament has adopted a declaration criticizing Canada’s 2009 renewal of visas for citizens of the Czech Republic and is calling on the European Union to put more pressure on Ottawa. The resolution emphasizes that if the situation is not resolved soon, the EU may initiate retaliatory measures.”

The European Parliament resolution states, “If the question of the breach of the mutual mechanism with respect to visas is not resolved soon, the corresponding retaliatory measures can be expected from the EU side. …The European Parliament…calls on the Commissioner to establish a new mechanism in place of bilateral negotiations which will guarantee for all Member States a full-fledged mechanism of mutual relations with respect to visas and which will also ensure that all Member States immediately renew visa obligations for the citizens of countries outside the EU who breach that mechanism.”

The news report notes that, “(Czech MEP Zuzana) Roithová (Christian Democrats – KDU-ČSL) said the declaration will ‘publicize’ the entire problem in the EU at a time when Canada and the EU are negotiating an important trade agreement which will set the framework for future cooperation. Those talks should finish by the end of this year. Both the European Parliament and the Member States will then discuss ratifying the agreement. Roithová believes the possible failure of those negotiations could be a weak spot for Canada and says the Czechs have already refused to ratify an agreement on civilian air travel because of the visa issue. The trade agreement would be something much more significant.”

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The Canadian Press reported last December that, “Sources have said the Czech Republic responded by linking the visa issue to free-trade negotiations between Canada and Europe, a move that could slow progress towards a deal. Canadian trade negotiators are anxious to secure an agreement by 2011, fearing that prolonged talks could endanger their bargaining position. If talks become onerous, there is concern Europe will focus on other markets.”

Postmedia News reported in late-January, “The Czech parliament is currently blocking a Canada-EU air transportation agreement, according to the Czech media.”

And Postmedia News reported  in mid-February, “(A) report (by the House of Commons parliamentary committee on trade), based on a fact-finding mission to Europe in November, recommends that the Canadian government and Parliament step up efforts to lobby the 736-seat legislature that now has veto power over EU trade agreements (because of concerns being expressed by them about the tar sands, sealing, and visa restrictions on the Czech Republic). …The European Parliament, which holds sessions in Brussels, Belgium and Strasbourg, France, gained veto powers over trade deals in the Lisbon Treaty that took effect in 2009.”

The Czech News Agency report is at http://www.romea.cz/english/index.php?id=detail&detail=2007_2224. Several campaign blogs on this are at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=czech+%2B+visa.