Thursday

14th Dec 2017

EU won't budge on Turkey visa demands

The EU commission will not relax demands for Turkey to rewrite its anti-terrorism laws, a chief spokeswoman told reporters on Monday (1 August) in Brussels.

The reforms are required before the EU lifts short-stay visas on Turkish nationals as a part of a much larger migrant agreement deal signed off with Ankara in March.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Turkey must fulfil all 72 benchmarks before visa requirements to passport-free Schengen states are lifted.

"With regards to the anti-terrorism legislation, I think first of all [European Commission] President Juncker has made it clear that we cannot change the benchmarks," she said.

There are seven outstanding benchmarks, five of which can "objectively" be fulfilled before the waivers are granted.

Terrorism laws and Turkey

Among the most contentious is a demand for lawmakers in Ankara to restrict their broad definition of terrorism.

The law has been used to crackdown on journalists and the opposition to Erdogan's rule.

Andreeva said the EU did not want to weaken Turkey's capacity to fight terrorism but that a measure of "proportionality" must be used.

"That means that persons such as journalists and professors who express in a non-violent manner their views, and do not call for the use of violence, do not find themselves being put in prison or charged for this expression of views on the basis of terrorism legislation," she said.

Andreeva's comments follow an interview with Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung over the weekend.

Cavusoglu warned visas must be lifted or Turkey would pull out of its deal with EU on migrants.

Under the March agreement, Turkey agreed to prevent migrants from travelling to Greece in exchange for political and cash incentives.

While 468 people have been returned to Turkey from Greece since the launch of the deal, 849 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to the EU.

Greek authorities are reporting an increase in arrivals since the failed coup against Turkey's autocratic president on 15 July.

The EU commission said around 89 people arrived each day during July. Last year, the daily average height was around 1,700.

Turkey's visa benchmarks

Turkey still needs to meet five benchmarks before visa requirements are lifted.

Aside from reforming its anti-terrorism laws, it needs to align legislation on personal data protection with EU standards as well as adopt measures to prevent corruption.

It also needs to conclude an operational cooperation agreement with the EU police agency, Europol, and offer judicial cooperation in criminal matters to all member states.

Another two benchmarks can be sorted after visas are removed, said the EU commission.

Turkey will need to upgrade existing biometric passports to include security features.

It also needs to fully implement an agreement to allow EU states to send non-Turks or so-called third country nationals back to Turkey.

The EU commission is set to publish the next progress report on the EU Turkey deal in September.

Turkey threatens to scrap migrant deal with EU, again

Ankara has once again threatened to back away from a migrant deal with the EU unless visa waivers for Turks are lifted. Over 1,000 have crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands since the military coup attempt on 15 July.

Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short

EU summit leaders on Thursday will not reach any deal on migration, while Italy and the Visegrad Group countries confront each other on the Trust Fund for Africa. The debate on internal EU asylum relocation, however, remains off the table.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  2. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  3. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  4. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  5. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  8. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  9. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  11. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  12. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham

Latest News

  1. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  2. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  3. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  4. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  5. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'
  6. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  7. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short
  8. Brits in EU-27 are uncertain, alone and far from protected