Euro-India trade body calls for improved EU visa policy

March 25th, 2009 - 12:11 am ICT by IANS  

Brussels, March 24 (IANS) Brussels-based Europe India Chamber of Commerce has criticized the European Union’s restrictive visa policy towards Indian business people and called for improvements, EuAsiaNews reported.
“This goes against the spirit of EU-India strategic partnership as due to the visa restriction it has become practically impossible for Indian business people to fulfil setting up businesses in Europe and also to conclude any business collaboration,” Sunil Prasad, secretary general of the body, said Tuesday.

His comments follow increasing complaints by Indian businessmen facing problems in getting EU Schengen visa and the high-handed manner in which they are sometimes treated, particularly at airports and border crossing points by immigration officials in Europe.

Prasad said that on one hand the EU wants the bilateral trade with India to reach 160 billion Euros by 2015 and free trade agreement signed by 2010 and on the other hand it is creating road blocks and preventing Indian business to enhance trade with EU.

“This approach to the visa issue to Indian business is going to be the single most spoiling factor to achieve this target,” he said.

Prasad also called for harmonization of visa procedures by the EU countries in India and called for effective means to improve the system.

A Schengen visa holder can travel to any or all countries (currently 22 EU countries and three non-EU European countries) in the Schengen area using one single visa.

Prasad, who is also president of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Belgium, said that in this economic recession in Europe, EU needs business collaboration and improving trade with India more than what India needs from Europe.

“And, this has to be understood by the EU countries with a sense of urgency,” he added.

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