EU official: Turkey should wait for visa waiver until October

The Schengen zone looks likely to remain under threat for the rest of 2016, at least. [Philippe Le Moine/Flickr]

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.

Commission proposes visa-free travel for Ukrainians

The European Commission proposed lifting the visa requirements for citizens of Ukraine on Wednesday (20 April). The move, which was expected, comes despite the Dutch referendum vote against the EU-Ukraine association agreement, partly motivated by hostility to migration.

Juncker recommends visa liberalisation for Ukraine, Georgia, Kosovo

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday the EU should offer visa-free short-stay travel to the bloc for Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo – all three locked in bitter disputes with Russia.


Commission admits visa-free travel for Turks depends on national parliaments

The European Commission today (4 May) proposed that Turkish nationals would enjoy visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone by the end of June, praising Ankara for its fast delivery on meeting the necessary conditions. But Commission experts admit that national parliaments could upturn the deal.

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.

Erdogan says he wants visa waiver by October

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday (10 May) that he wanted the European Union to grant Turks visa-free travel to the passport-free Schengen area by October at the latest. The previous deadline, also cited by the Commission, was the end of June.

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.

Erdogan warns he will ditch refugee deal if EU breaks promises

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned the European Union on Thursday (7 April) that Ankara would not implement a key deal on reducing the flow of refugees if Brussels fails to fulfil its side of the bargain.


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