Turkey – The European Commission proposed Wednesday that the European Parliament should lift visa requirements for Turkish who want to visit Europe. However, the new measures will only be implemented when Ankara meets all the benchmarks of its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap. Concrete conditions include the fight against corruption and judicial cooperation with EU members.

Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the European Commission said Wednesday that Turkey has “made impressive progress” during the last weeks, on achieving objectives of the visa roadmap. He stressed there is “work to be donde as a matter of urgency”, but the commission is still putting the proposal on the table.

Refugees and migrants board Turkish Coast Guard Search and Rescue ship Umut-703 after a failed attempt of crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos off the shores of Canakkale. Photo: Reuters

80 million Turkish citizens will be able to visit almost all countries in the European Union, without requesting a visa. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos recognized that Turkish authorities have made “remarkable progress”, since the 18 March EU-Turkey deal.

“On the understanding that all benchmarks will be met as a matter of urgency, the Commission has decided to put forward a proposal to transfer Turkey to the list of visa-free countries. The Commission will continue to monitor the continuous fulfilling of these criteria.” Avramopoulos said in a press release issued Wednesday.

All the roadmap goals are expected to be achieved by the end of June 2016. Areas to be addressed include: fight against corruption, data protection, judicial cooperation with EU Member States and revision of practices on terrorism, said the commission on Wednesday.

Not all European Union Member States are included in the visa-free deal

The visa-free travel plan is expected to apply to almost all EU Member States. However, Ireland, the U.K., and countries in the Schengen area, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are not included in the deal. Citizens of Turkey will be able to visit selected countries, for periods of up to 90 days, for business or tourism purposes.

The exemption does not allow Turkish to work in EU territory. Citizens who want to travel to countries in the Schengen area must explain their purpose of travel, demonstrate they have enough economic support and have a biometric passport, containing a facial image and a fingerprint.

Turkish cabinet ministers have applauded the European Commission remarks. EU Minister Volkan Bozkir said Wednesday in a press conference that Turkey is currently “in a very crucial position”, but the legal process is expected to end by June. “We got this miraculous thing done”, he added.

Source: European Commission Press Release Database