Friday

26th May 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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Opinion

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

Italian refugee centre allegedly run by mafia

One of Italy's most powerful mafia syndicates, the 'Ndrangheta, allegedly stole over €32 million from a refugee centre run by a Catholic charity in southern Italy.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms