President Lenin Moreno says he will ask Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for help in eliminating visa requirements for Ecuadorian citizens traveling in the European Union (EU). “I will ask him to intercede on Ecuador’s behalf so our citizens have the same right of free travel in the Schengen area as the citizens of other nations,” Moreno told an audience of Ecuadorian migrants Sunday in Madrid.
Currently, Ecuadorians are required to obtain special travel visas to cross the borders of European countries.
The Schengen area includes 26 European countries that have eliminated visa requirements for travelers from countries covered by special agreements. Moreno pointed out Sunday that citizens of Colombia and Peru are included in the agreement and says Ecuador should be too.
“If capital and products can easily move across borders, why not human beings, the most important asset of any country,” Moreno asked.
The issue of Ecuador’s inclusion in the Schengen area no-visa agreement was discussed at last year’s EU trade agreement negotiations but was set aside to maintain the agreement schedule. Peru and Colombia were included under Schengen rules when they signed an EU trade agreement in 2012.
In addition to the Schengen question, Moreno and Rajoy will discuss trade and the status of the estimated 500,000 Ecuadorians living in Spain during today’s meeting. Spain’s concern about Julian Assange’s support of the Catalonian independence movement will also be discussed. Assange is holed-up in Ecuador’s British embassy in London, where he was granted political asylum six years ago.
In addition to Rajoy, Moreno will also visit Spanish King Felipe on Monday.