European countries could reinstate visas for US and Canadian citizens should the two countries not allow free movement of Romanians.
The European Parliament on Thursday voted for a change in the EU regulation on visas, introducing a reciprocity clause which would force the US and Canada to cancel visa for Romanians, or for any other EU country.
The change in the EU regulation will come into force 24 months after being published in the EU Official Journal.
However, to enact this reciprocity mechanism involves a lengthy procedure.
Firstly, a member state, whose citizens needs visas for the US and Canada or another country outside the EU, must make a request for reciprocity.
After the mechanism starts, the third country has six months to lift visas for EU citizens.
Romania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that this confirms the justice of one of the principles constantly summoned by Romania, that of reciprocity.
Romania unilaterally lifted visas for Americans and Canadians in 2002.
“Considering that citizens from most EU countries get visa free access to the US and Canada, and American and Canadian citizens can travel freely all across the EU, the Foreign Affairs Ministry believes it is natural to apply an equivalent treatment to all EU citizens,” according to the Ministry’s statement.
The statement went on to say that Romania has pledged to comply with all the necessary conditions required by the American legislation, with most of them already tackled.
The main obstacle in the Visa Waiver program was reducing the refusal rate for visa requests submitted by Romanians, down to the maximum 3 percent requested by American law.
In 2011-2012, the refusal rate was of 17 percent, down from 24.8 percent in 2010.
The Ministry also noted the several law initiatives in the US to reform the Visa Waiver Program, which, if approved, would lift this ceiling to 10 percent.
In 2011, 32,000 Romanians received a temporary visa for the US, according to the ministry.