: European Parliament stops work on Turkey visa liberalisation

13:43 May. 11, 2016

European Parliament stops work on Turkey visa liberalisation

Migrants on their way to refugee camps deported from Greece's Lesbos Island to Turkey. April 26, 2016. (GettyImages)

Visa waiver suspension may put wider migrant deal in doubt

European Parliament stopped working on the visa-free regime for Turkey. According to EUobserver, the decision was made a week ago when EP group leaders quietly suspended deliberating on the issue on Wednesday, May 4th. Some of the lead MEPs though, as well as the group coordinators in the civil liberties committee found out about the suspension on Monday, May 9th.

Reportedly E.U. parliament chief Martin Schulz suspended the process since Turkey had not yet met all 72 E.U. visa-free criteria listed. Now MEPs allegedly force the E.U. commission to first deal with all the outstanding issues in the agreement before sending it back to the Parliament.

Last week the European Commission suggested the visa requirements for Turkey be lifted by the end of June.
It published an assessment on Turkey's progress and said five out of 72 benchmarks still needed to be met.

Some MEPs even admit the deadline of canceling visas may be postponed since the E.U. requirements are too strong for any country to meet them in time.

"I think no country, whether it's Turkey or Germany or whoever, could really fulfill all the requirements within that short time. It's not possible, especially if you would like to see something not only written down on paper but also decided in parliament and maybe also at least partly put into practice," says Brigit Sippel from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

The EU commission had said in its visa report that Turkey's law on terror allows for an "overly broad" application of the term. Journalists and academics have fallen under its scope.

Read also Guardian: Erdoğan dismisses EU demand to change terror laws for visa-free travel

Turkey has already provided with the official response. The country's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised he would stop accepting back migrants from Greece if the visa liberalisation is not launched as promised. Additionally, he forced out of office Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, famous for his pro-European views.

Read also BBC: Europe 'to back' visa-free travel for Turkey

EU officials say the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal is still ongoing. Five visa benchmarks left for being fulfilled are discussed daily through regular video conferences between Turkish and European officials.

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