World Europe 20 May 2016 EU ministers back em ...

EU ministers back emergency brake on Turkey visa-free travel

AFP
Published May 20, 2016, 6:17 pm IST
Updated May 20, 2016, 6:17 pm IST
Visa-free travel to the EU is a key demand by Ankara in exchange for taking back migrants who land in Greece.
EU, Turkey seal deal to return refugees. (Photo: AFP)
 EU, Turkey seal deal to return refugees. (Photo: AFP)

Brussels: EU interior ministers on Friday adopted a so-called emergency brake that would allow European nations to swiftly halt visa-free access to Europe for Turks and other nationalities if key conditions were violated.

The brake -- or "snap back mechanism" -- will permit bloc countries to halt visa-free travel if large numbers of Turks stay in the EU illegally or if there are a large number of asylum applications by Turks.

 

Visa-free travel to the EU is a key demand by Ankara in exchange for taking back migrants who land in Greece under a controversial deal signed in March seeking to curb the influx as Europe grapples with a record flow of migrants.

"I'm pleased that we agreed today on a mechanism that makes it easier to act against abuse," said Klaas Dijkhoff, Migration Minister from the Netherlands, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency.

If passed by the European parliament, the new mechanism will suspend visa-free travel for "third country nationals" -- such as Turkey but also other nations benefiting from similar deals with the EU.

 

Turkey has to meet a list of 72 criteria -- ranging from biometric passports to respect for human rights -- that were set when Brussels and Ankara first talked about 90-day visa-free travel to the Schengen area.

Key sticking points are counter-terror laws that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses to amend as demanded by Brussels.

Erdogan has accused the European Union of "hypocrisy" for telling Ankara to adapt its counter-terror laws in return for visa-free travel while it was in the throes of fighting PKK rebels.          

 

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