Monday

25th Sep 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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

Asylum seekers create EU 'limbo' nation

The number of asylum seekers "in limbo" in the EU is likely to be greater than the combined populations of Cyprus and Malta, estimates indicate.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel wins fourth term, exit polls say
  2. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  3. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  4. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  5. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  6. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  7. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  8. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel