Tuesday

28th Jan 2020

Czechs want EU response after Canada imposes visas

The Czech government has called for EU solidarity after Canada decided to stop its visa-free regime with Prague due to an increasing number of Czech Roma applicants for asylum in Canada.

Two years after abolishing visa requirements for Czechs as a new member nation of the European Union, Canada re-introduced the visa obligation for all visitors from the country on Tuesday (14 July), following several diplomatic warnings about the likely move.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Czech PM Jan Fischer (r) has lobbyied the European Commission on the issue (Photo: European Commission)

Although aware of the problem of asylum seekers of Roma origin and Ottawa's plans to tackle it, Czech officials stated that the decision was one-sided and unfair and should be protested by all of Europe.

As a response Prague withdrew its ambassador to Canada and imposed visas for Canadian diplomats. Imposition of visas for all Canadian citizens would need to be agreed in co-operation with other EU states.

But the Czech government has also officially requested the European Commission to invoke the bloc's solidarity procedure which could theoretically result in a decision by all 27 EU member states to introduce visa to Canada.

"I'm curious to know how the other EU member states will react," Czech prime minister Jan Fischer told reporters in Strasbourg on Tuesday, after meeting commission president Jose Manuel Barroso to discuss the matter.

The Czech leader said Mr Barroso had already spoken to Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and promised he would try hard to help Prague to achieve the lifting of the visa requirements from Czechs.

"We expect the measures introduced by Canada to be temporary, and we hope that full visa-free travel between the EU and Canada is re-established soon," the commission spokesman Michele Cercone told journalists in Brussels.

The EU executive will reply to Prague's official request within three months and submit a report assessing the demand for reciprocity to the council, representing member states. The council then has another three months to decide what action to take.

But Canadian authorities have defended their proceedings and refuted Prague's criticism. The country's immigration minister Jason Kenney also downplayed the possibility of a joint EU reaction as asked for by the Czechs.

"I met with [the EU's] acting ambassador yesterday and they gave no indication of such a measure," he told CTV News Channel Tuesday afternoon.

The minister argued that Canada cannot let migrants from other countries abuse its "generous, open immigration system, one of the most generous in the world."

"We can't allow the systematic abuse of people who are basically coming to Canada as economic migrants, jumping the queue, by going through the backdoor of the asylum system," said Mr Kenney.

Czech citizens submitted 1,720 asylum claims in Canada in the first half of 2009, twice as many as in the whole of 2008, with the majority of claims made by Czech Roma citizens complaining about discrimination in their home country.

Seals and visas threaten EU-Canada rift

Canada's decision to impose visas on Czech citizens and the EU's decision to ban seal products are emerging as major irritants in bilateral relations.

EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail

European counter-intelligence services need to "seriously raise the level of vigilance" on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

News in Brief

  1. Cases of coronavirus in France and Germany
  2. Report: EU court seeks authority on post-Brexit deal
  3. Slovenian PM resigns, calls snap election
  4. Merkel wants EU-Balkan talks agreement by March
  5. Germany: UN sanctions to enforce Libya ceasefire
  6. Irish PM: UK weaker than EU in trade talks
  7. Report warns of challenges under new EU telecom rules
  8. EU countries to evacuate citizens from virus-hit Wuhan in China

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. 'Brexit is not going to go away,' warns EU's Barnier
  2. Belgian spy services launch internal clear-up
  3. US and UK in war of words over Huwaei
  4. How Slovakia's far-right might pull off an election victory
  5. Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values
  6. Salvini down, but not out in Italy regional poll
  7. Brexit finally happens - the UK leaves the EU This WEEK
  8. Why is Netherlands so far behind on renewables?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us