Turkey on way to visa-free travel around Schengen area of European Union

'Turkey has made lots of efforts to fulfil the remaining benchmarks', the EU Comission has said

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, has struck a deal accepting refugees back into the country
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, has struck a deal accepting refugees back into the country

Turkish citizens are on the cusp of being handed visa-free travel around the European Union pending a vote by the bloc's member states.

If passed, the agreement would grant Turkey's 75 million residents a tourist stay of 90 days.

It comes off the back of a deal with President Erdogan to allow refugees and migrants to be returned to the country from Greece after crossing the Aegean Sea in a bid to reduce the number of people attempting to reach mainland Europe.

A report on the subject will be formally made public by the European Commission on May 4, said a spokesperson at the EU institution.

"The European Commission will bring out the progress report tomorrow, and if they come to the decision that visa liberalisation should happen then the Council and the Parliament will have time to adopt the proposal," he told The Independent.

A final date for approval by the European Parliament could be in two months, the spokesperson said.

"It's part of the EU-Turkey agreement and it's also part of the long ongoing liberalisation dialogue with Turkey," he said.

"Turkey has made lots of efforts to fulfil the remaining benchmarks."

Refugees protest the migration deal with Turkey to remove them from Greece

In order to win visa liberalisation for its citizens, Turkey has had to meet 72 benchmarks on security, data protection and more.

Not all of these benchmarks have yet been met - but Turkey has said it will "terminate" the migration deal if visa liberalisation is not granted.

Its citizens would have visa-free access to the Schengen area, which is 26 European countries who ceased border controls between each other in a 1995 agreement and which the UK is not signed up to.

"The dialogue over visa liberalisation has already been going on for about two years," said the spokesperson at the Commission.

"It has just been sped up."

The European Commission is made up of 28 commissioners from each member state with the UK represented by Lord Jonathan Hill.

It is intended to be a neutral body, not influenced by any particular national government, which puts forward legislation, enacts decisions and upholds EU treaties.

Meanwhile, Turkey is estimated to host more than 2.5 million Syrians and more than 80,000 Iraqi refugees.

The principle of free movement within the Schengen area has been under threat since fears over terrorists increased following the November Paris attacks.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in