Friday

18th Jan 2019

Let Turkey into Europol, British MPs say

  • Heroin in Afghanistan. The MPs said: 'Not to admit Turkey to membership ... would be to cut off the European nose to spite our face' (Photo: isafmedia)

Turkey should be allowed to become a member of the EU's joint police body, Europol, no matter what happens with its EU membership bid, a new report by the British parliament has said.

The study, published by MPs on the home affairs committee on Monday (1 August), cited Europol director Rob Wainwright and the head of the British Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), Steve Coats, as favouring the move.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"Because [Turkey is] not a member of Europol ... they don't enjoy the same services that other European law enforcement has in terms of our ability to connect police teams together," Wainwright told the parliamentary enquiry.

"There are advantages to it in terms of our intelligence systems, intelligence pathways and operational ability to work on operations with other partners," Coats told MPs.

The study noted that Turkish-based organised crime groups pose an increasing threat to EU security in terms of heroin smuggling from Afghanistan, cocaine from Latin America, human trafficking and people smuggling.

Turkey already has a basic agreement with Europol, but current arrangements do not allow sharing of operational data, such as personal information on suspects and victims.

"We strongly recommend that Turkey be allowed full membership of Europol ... and of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, prior to (and irrespective of) full [EU] membership," the parliamentary committee said.

"Not to admit Turkey to membership of those bodies would be to cut off the European nose to spite our face."

The MPs indicated the EU should also give ground to Turkey on visa liberalisation in order to ease tensions over irregular migration on the Greek-Turkish border.

Around 350 irregular migrants try to cross the 12.5-km-long border into the EU every day. Most of them come from Pakistan, Central Asia and Afghanistan trying to get to Greece, the UK, Sweden, Germany or Italy.

They end up being held in Greek detention camps in "desperate conditions" but are then released because the EU does not have a readmission agreement with Turkey, which has made the move conditional on the union first putting forward a plan for future visa-free travel for Turkish nationals.

"The situation has now reached crisis proportions," the MPs, who visited Greece and Turkey as part of their research, said. "In Athens, for example, residents have become fearful of entering parts of the old town where large numbers of homeless migrants gather."

The MPs added: "Turkish authorities feel that they are grappling with problems that are 'made in Europe' but that their efforts are not recognised in some European countries ...Turkey has a genuine will to achieve agreement and to improve co-operation and practice, but feels that EU decision-making is slow and cumbersome."

On the broader issue of Turkish EU accession, MPs estimated that opening up EU borders to Turkey could see as few as 500,000 or as many as 4.5 million Turkish nationals relocate to the EU after their hypothetical entry date of 2020.

The report added that fewer irregular migrants would come via Turkey into the rest of the union because Turkish EU membership would let asylum-seekers ask for help in Turkey instead of first having to make it across the existing EU border to file their claim.

"More than half of all those asylum-seeking migrants coming to the EU would probably agree to stay in Turkey if they were to get access to asylum procedures," Oxford University migration expert Franck Duvell told the MPs. "People who come from neighbouring countries, there is a familiarity; they have the same religion, languages are similar ... people would be prepared to stay."

Germany led way on EU human rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us