Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, and Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, made the call when he visited the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday.
Ekweremadu’s Media Adviser, Mr. Uche Anichuckwu quoted the Deputy Senate President to have said the new visa regime had become imperative, given the increasing diplomatic and economic cooperation between the economic blocs.
He said, “A visa-free regime between both economic blocs has become imperative in order to facilitate greater socio-economic and political cooperation between the EU and ECOWAS member states and we think the time has come to give it a try.
“A situation where important ECOWAS government officials and business persons with genuine reasons to visit EU countries for legitimate businesses are denied visas is no longer acceptable and I do hope the European Parliament would take up this matter accordingly.”
The Speaker allayed the fears of EU member states, who feel that such a visa regime would result in influx of people of ECOWAS into Europe.
He suggested an incremental approach starting with certain categories of international passport holders.
Ekweremadu also assured the EU Parliament that ECOWAS was on top of the situation in Mali.
He, however, appealed for additional material and financial support to ensure that the terrorists were flushed out of Mali and the entire West African sub-region.
Schulz assured Ekweremadu of the support of the European Parliament towards facilitating greater relations with the ECOWAS sub-region.