Last week, Romanian Premier Dacian Ciolos and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov agreed to send a joint letter to the Canadian authorities, calling for a visa waiver (visa-free travel) for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens.
I was about to board a plane to a destination outside the EU and queuing at the passport-control, when I read about this letter. Would the ‘value’ of having a Romanian passport rise, if Canada would lift the restrictions? Or isn’t it more a sign of a country’s strength and credibility, since visa-requirements reflect strongly on each country’s relationships with others. They take also into account diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations.
Waiting in my seat for the aircraft to takeoff, I wondered, which country, resp citizens holding such a passport, have the best visa-free access to travel worldwide. And before the ‘fasten your seat belts’ sing switched off, I found that according to Henley & Partners’ Visa Restrictions Index the Germans hold the strongest passports, giving them visa-free access to 177 countries.
The index ranked 199 nations, using data from IATA (International Air Transport Association) which holds the largest database of travel information.
Here is the top 10:
Rank, country, visa-free access
- Germany, 177
- Sweden, 176
- Finland, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, 175
- Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, United States, 174
- Austria, Japan, Singapore, 173
- Canada, Ireland, South Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, 172
- Greece, New Zealand, 171
- Australia, 169
- Malta, 168
- Hungary, Czech Republic, Iceland, 167
- Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, 153
The worst score went to Afghanistan, with just 25 countries allowing visa-free travel.
But can you really measure the value of a person’s nationality? A second index by Henley & Partners, The Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) ranked 161 nationalities by looking at the strength of each country’s economy, health, education, standard of living, and level of peace and stability alongside external values such as the ability to visa-free travel and settle in other countries.
Based on these factors, each nationality was issued with a score between 0% – 100%. The higher the score, the better the quality of living.
Here are the 30 nationalities which, according to the QNI, deemed to have the highest quality of life along with the score for each:
Germany — 83.1% , Denmark — 83% , Finland — 82% , Norway — 81.7% , Iceland / Sweden — 81.6% , Austria / Ireland — 81% , France — 80.9% , Switzerland — 80.7% , Netherlands — 80.3% , Belgium — 80.2% , UK — 80.1%, Liechtenstein — 80% , Spain / Italy 79.8% , Luxembourg — 79.3% , Czech Republic — 79.1% , Portugal — 78.9% , Slovenia — 78.8% , Hungary — 78% , Slovakia — 77.9% , Poland / Estonia — 76.7% , Greece — 76.5% , Malta — 76.4% , Lithuania — 76.2% , Latvia — 76% , Cyprus — 73.4% , Romania — 72.6% , Bulgaria — 72.4% , US — 63.5%, Croatia — 58.3% , Japan — 56.2%.
A few final thoughts: I like rankings, they can provide useful information but you should be able to put the data into perspective: meaning, it shouldn’t come to you as a surprise, that countries within the European Union rank highly in this ‘QNI’. They have performed well largely thanks to the EU’s Freedom Settlement, which allows EU citizens to move, work, and vote in other EU member countries.
This advantage is the only reason for Romania’s relatively high score in this index – above the US and Japan!! – although the country faces deep rooted structural, educational, or health problems (read more about a recent issue making headlines).
They won’t go away by brushing them under the rug instead will prevent Romania to develop towards EU-average for decades to come.
Maybe the political parties in Romania – who’s main purpose seems to be blaming each other in silly television ‘shows’ – should learn from non-EU member Norway.
In Oslo, the four main political parties, both from the right and the left, have just reached a tentative deal for the nation’s future. They have all agreed on a new energy policy that will include a ban on new gas- or diesel- powered car sales as soon as 2025 and would only allow zero-emission vehicles to be sold. This is especially remarkable, since Norway is currently one of the world’s largest oil producers.
Will Canada lift the visa-restrictions for Romanian citizens?
EU citizenship gives a number of important rights, including the right to move freely around the European Union and settle anywhere within its territory.
Norway: A political coalition sets ground for zero-emission traffic. One of the most exciting prospects for fans of the electric car in recent months has been the rumors regarding Tesla’s next Model – the Y – to complete the ‘S3XY’ lineup. This is very much a secretive prospect at present, with Tesla having yet to even confirm the existence of the vehicle. However, according to ‘rm cardesign’ the possible appearance of Model Y could look like this: