"It is impossible to accept the (CETA) agreement without this decision (of Canada waiving visas for Romanians." I am just reading this statement of our prime minister, the latest in a series opened by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and continued by practically all the officials in Bucharest. I'm reading and I'm thinking, it’s a legitimate question whether, if so firm about the Canadian visas, then… is there anything else we should demand from Brussels as trade-off?

We had a similar position last year (article here - Romanian version),  hearing about "the national interest" we took to Brussels in order to reject the refugee quota allotted by the European Commission, based on an algorithm set up on a EU level. We're fighting quotas for 15 years already (since the beginning of the acceptance process) and we still have not learned the beauty and harshness of the European game / negotiations: ceding where it's "really impossible", pushing where one's strengths are and where allies can be drawn… just like in any other negotiations, only with "extraordinary, long-term stakes."

The matter I discussed back then is hotter than ever nowadays. The Guardian just reported that the journalists already saw the final draft of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCTB) Directive, to be most probably issued next week. It's a topic which's consequences to our national economy I mention on every occasion, as we'll get used to it anyhow on every occasion - please see a relevant article here. By the time we get used to it, however, there will be little to do about it: the matter will be already settled.

So we will have a common taxation base throughout the EU for the big European groups (including their Romanian subsidiaries), then the base will be consolidated on a group level (and the profit will be shared among subsidiaries based on an algorithm). Why should be interested in this as a priority? Because on a common taxation base, countries like Romania will be no longer allowed to use arguments like, "we're more attractive due to accelerated amortization," for instance. And "we have a lower tax level" will actually became void! The topic is, therefore, investments, the way we manage to draw value-added investments that allow us a real income growth - in other words, a real integration into Europe.

I confess to my readers that I wish I heard lately at least a minimal official reassurance or a single public mention like, yes our representatives in Brussels saw the final version of the directive (at least as much as The Guardian's journalists), and we as a country already have a strategy for negotiating the algorithms used for splitting the profits of multinationals.

I honestly fail to understand why the issue of Canadian visas is more immediate than ever (anyhow, I'm hearing that the Canadian side agrees to waive visas by 2018). Moreover, the EU, which wants to absorb the Brexit shock by unprecedented integration, really has not time for our and Bulgarians' problem with visas, or Walloons' upset about economy, meaning about ... multinationals (at least their issue is related to CETA). On the other hand, the Canadians are raising the stakes very high, bluntly asking Brussels, "if Europe is incapable of signing a progressive trade deal with a country like Canada, then who does Europe think it can do business with in the years to come?"

So this is about a European interest, a much higher stake. Romania has much higher interests in the EU, long-term ones, too, than getting the Union's support to make Canadians allow us visiting without visas. The question still stands: what is our game in Europe? What are our really important stakes?

Article by Adrian Luca, TPS, published on contributors.ro, October 20, 2016

Update (October 21) - We just learned this morning that Canada is finally capitulating: it waives visas for all Romanians, not starting from 2018, but from December 1, 2017. And pay attention: if all of us go there, the Canadians could reinstate the visas for three years.What I want to see is what will we negotiate then, in exchange of what?