Turkey will have wait for the EU visa waiver at least until October, a representative of the European Union told journalists ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs Council opening today (20 May).
Ministers will discuss visa policy. They will focus on the recent European Commission proposal for the revision of the suspension mechanism which can be applied to all existing visa liberalisation agreements. The Commission has proposed lifting the visa barrier in the Schengen zone for nationals of Ukraine, Georgia, Kosovo and Turkey. However, no specific decisions are expected at Council level at this stage.
Instead, ministers will focus on the executive’s proposed amendments to the visa EU regulation that will facilitate the suspension of the visa-free regime with countries from which the flow of migrants increased sharply after the visa waiver.
“One and a half people in Kosovo or 3.5 million people in Georgia is something the EU can digest”, the official said.” But a total of 125 million in Turkey and Ukraine …?”
Turkey’s population is 79 million, and Ukraine’s is 46 million.
According to the joint declaration of EU leaders and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu signed in Brussels on 18 March, the visa waiver should take place by the end of June, subject to meeting all of the bloc’s requirements.
But according to the EU official, until then Turkey could only cover as many as five of its remaining seven criteria not yet fulfilled.
For the other two, Turkey should work in July, he said.
The most problematic issue is Turkey’s refusal of Turkey to harmonize its legal definition of terrorism with the EU. Turkey has also not yet introduced biometric passports. Ankara should also strengthen its legal cooperation with the EU, and its police agency Europol, and create an independent authority to protect personal data.
In mid-June, the European Commission will present its second report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey migration deal. This will include an evaluation of Turkey’s fulfillment of the criteria for the visa waiver.
On this basis, EU interior ministers still have time to decide until the end of June, but there would hardly be time for the European Parliament to involve itself before the summer break that normally starts in mid-July.
Most likely, the Parliament’s decision will be made in September, and the entry of the visa waiver could take place in October, the official said.
This in fact meets the target date recently announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Erdoğan has warned the EU that Ankara will not implement a key deal on reducing the flow of refugees if Brussels fails to fulfil its side of the bargain.