23rd Mar 2018

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.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant

Niger has temporarily stopped all evacuations from Libya detention centres under an EU funded programme because so few are being resettled to Europe. Many of those that have been evacuated are pregnant, with some asking for HIV testing.

EU billions had 'limited' effect in Turkey, audit finds

The EU got "limited" effect for the €9bn it spent trying to modernise Turkey in recent years, auditors have said. Turkey has been "backsliding" on reforms since 2013 due to "lack of political will", the European Court of Auditors found.

News in Brief

  1. EU will be exempted from tariffs, says US minister
  2. Malmstroem: EU 'hopes' for US tariffs exemption
  3. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  4. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  5. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  6. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  7. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  8. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions