Swedish EU presidency backs Czechs in visa row with Canada

15-07-2009

The Swedish EU presidency said on Wednesday it was in favour of visa requirements for Canadians travelling to EU member states after Canada imposed visa requirements on Czech nationals. Swedish Migration and Asylum Policy Minister Tobias Billstroem told the AFP news agency his country was in favour of respecting the EU solidarity principle but said it was up to the European Commission to handle the proposal, since the commission was responsible for the reciprocity mechanism.

Canada imposed visas on Czech nationals on Tuesday citing the need to stave off what it said was a steady influx of Roma asylum applicants from the Czech Republic. Czech officials reacted to the news with anger, calling the move “unfriendly and unaccommodating”. The Czech government has urged the EU to take joint steps against Canada within the solidarity principle, but the EU on Tuesday ruled out immediate action. Acting within its rights, the Czech government has recalled the country’s ambassador to Canada for consultations and announced plans to impose visa requirements on Canadian diplomats and civil servants.