EU-Ecuador - Proposed addition of Ecuador to visa "blacklist"

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Proposed addition of Ecuador to visa "blacklist"

On 28 November 2002 the Commission presented a draft Regulation (COM (2002) 679) that would add Ecuador to the EU's visa "blacklist" and make technical changes to Regulation 539/2001 (on the third countries whose nationals are or are not to be subject to a visa requirement). Political agreement on the measure, which would introduce a visa requirement for Ecuadorians from 1 April 2003, was reached at the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) in Brussels on 19 December 2002. The proposal is now scheduled for adoption as an A-point at the February JHA Council.

The introduction of visas for Ecuadorians is said to be motivated by a substantial increase in migration flows during the last year, one of the two reasons (the other being national security) that can justify altering the visa lists. The "visa list" does not cover the UK and Ireland, who are likely to formally opt-out of the measure, while Denmark will be covered as under its Amsterdam treaty position on EC law matters.

It is significant that the Spanish delegation in Brussels has been promoting the measure, making a mockery of its bilateral agreement on immigration flows (see Statewatch bulletin vol 11 no 1) and immigration convention with Ecuador, signed on 31 January and 1 February 2001. When it was signed, barely two years ago, the Spanish government´s then-immigration secretary Fernandez Miranda promised that it would result in 30,000 Ecuadorians obtaining work in Spain annually, for the following five years. As the figures stand, only 220 were allowed to migrate under the procedure that was created, and only 80 Ecuadorians were included in the Spanish quota for immigrant workers for the year 2002. Spain was strongly criticised last year for its failure to oppose a visa requirement for Colombia (another country with which it has strong historical links), which was introduced on security grounds.

In an interview with El País on 24 November 2002, Colonel Lucio Gutierrez (who became President of Ecuador after an election that followed a popular rebellion and coup d´état on 21 January 2000), argued that the situation of Ecuadorian migrants in Spain should be improved "because those who are in an illegal situation are very exploited". On the Spanish proposal to introduce a visa requirement for Ecuadorians, he said:

"We could talk about history for a little while. When the Spanish came to America nobody asked them for a visa."

Sources: Statewatch vol 11 no 1; El País 14.10.02, 23.10.02, 13.11.02, 14.11.02, 24.11.02, 29.11.02.

European Commission draft Regulation: (COM (2002) 679, 28 Nov. 2002)

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