E.U. Aspirations

Turkey’s Visa Demand Faces Obstacles

davutoglu and merkel imago-xinhua
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the few European leaders smiling at Monday's E.U.-Turkey summit.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The European Union desperately needs Turkey’s help in the refugee crisis but the bloc risks damaging its credibility if it bends the rules to meet Turkey’s demand for visa-free travel from end-June.

  • Facts


    • Visa-free entry into the European Union for Turks is one of the key demands made by Turkey in return for its help in the refugee crisis.
    • The European Commission has said Turkey doesn’t meet all the legal requirements for visa-free travel yet.
    • E.U. lawmakers have said they will scrutinise the visa deal to ensure that the bloc isn’t bending the rules to accommodate Turkey.
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Visa-free travel for Turks in the European Union was one of the key demands made by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at Monday’s E.U. summit when he named his price for helping to solve the refugee crisis.

And the price is high, judging by his other demands that included accelerated accession talks with the European Union and an additional €3 billion, or $3.3 billion, on top of the €3 billion agreed so far to support Syrian refugees in Turkey.

A day later, German politicians immediately complained that Turkey was asking too much, and that it was far from ready to join the European Union given its human rights record. Some conservatives from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s camp went as far as describing Turkish accession as a red line they won’t cross.

Visa-free travel, too, seems unlikely to come as soon as Turkey would like. The country demanded in Brussels that the liberalization be brought forward from October to the end of June. But only 36 of the 72 requirements have been met. And resistance is growing in the European Parliament.

“We’re not going to approve that without the strictest scrutiny,” Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Handelsblatt. Lifting restrictions was a legal process that couldn’t be circumvented for political purposes, he said.

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