EU commission backs Turkish citizens' visa-free travel

EU Commission says Turkey met most of 72 criteria needed and invites legislative organs of the bloc to endorse the move.

    Turkey must fulfil the final five criteria before Turkish citizens can travel visa-free to Schengen area [AP]
    Turkey must fulfil the final five criteria before Turkish citizens can travel visa-free to Schengen area [AP]

    The European Commission has recommended the European Union to allow Turkish citizens to travel freely through the Schengen countries without visas.

    The EU’s executive organ said Turkey has met most of the 72 criteria needed for a visa waiver, and it invited legislative institutions of the bloc to endorse the move by June 30.


    OPINION: The EU can learn from Turkey's refugee experience


    The European Parliament, made up of European MPs, and EU Council, that comprises member state ministers, would have to approve the waiver for it to enter into practice.

    Frans Timmermans, the commission's vice-president, said: "There is still work to be done as a matter of urgency, but if Turkey sustains the progress made, they can meet the remaining benchmarks."

    Turkey must fulfil the final five criteria before Turkish citizens can travel visa-free to Schengen area.

    The move is part of a package of incentives offered to Turkey — including up to 6bn euros ($6.9bn) in aid for Syrian refugees and fast-track EU membership talks — to persuade Ankara to stop migrants heading to Europe and take thousands back from Greece.

    Concerns

    The deal has raised legal and moral questions as EU nations, unable to agree among themselves about how to handle the refugee emergency, chose instead to outsource it to Turkey, where almost 3 million refugees are staying, most of them people fleeing war in Syria.

    Merkel visits Turkish-Syrian border to bolster refugee deal

    Visa liberalisation, which must come by June 30, would be an important sign that the Europeans are living up to their promises.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that the whole agreement will collapse if the EU reneges on any pledge.

    Once the visa proposal is endorsed, only Turkish citizens with biometric passports, including facial and fingerprint data, would be allowed to enter, Timmermans said.

    Visa-free travel would be possible in all EU member states except for Britain and Ireland, which opted out from Schengen, and would include four non-EU members of the Schengen passport-free travel area, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.