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Turkish citizens could get visa-free travel to EU by June

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Turkish citizens could get visa-free travel to EU by June

Photo © Yahia LOUKKAL - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission has opened the way for a decision on visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey by June, on the understanding that Turkey fulfils outstanding benchmarks of its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap.

The proposal is presented together with a Report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of the Roadmap.

EC vice-president Frans Timmermans welcomed progress made by Turkey on meeting the benchmarks of its visa liberalisation roadmap.

However, he added: "There is still work to be done as a matter of urgency but if Turkey sustains the progress made, they can meet the remaining benchmarks. This is why we are putting a proposal on the table which opens the way for the European Parliament and the Member States to decide to lift visa requirements, once the benchmarks have been met."

The Progress Report adopted by the Commission assesses progress made to date by Turkey in implementing the benchmarks, identifies outstanding benchmarks and sets out the concrete measures that Turkey needs to meet in order to complete the remaining requirements, in areas such as the fight against corruption, data protection, judicial cooperation with all Member States, enhanced cooperation with EUROPOL and revision of the legislation and practices on terrorism.

In a number of exceptional cases, the acceleration of the Roadmap's implementation has made completion of some benchmarks, such as a full roll-out of biometric passports and a review of the implementation of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement (fully applicable only as of 1 June), impossible to date. In others, the Commission acknowledges the good progress made by the Turkish authorities so far, and encourages them to urgently step up these efforts to meet all requirements in order to obtain visa liberalisation by the end of June.

Visa-free travel will apply to all EU Member States except for Ireland and the UK, and to the four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The exemption concerns only short stays of up to 90 days (in any 180-day period) for business, tourist or family purposes, among others. The visa exemption does not provide for the right to work in the EU. Other entry conditions for accessing the Schengen area will continue to apply, including the need to be able to prove their purpose of travel and sufficient subsidence means.

As for all countries listed in Annex II of the Visa Regulation and whose citizens can travel visa-free to Europe, the safeguard clause introduced in the beginning of 2014 will apply to visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey. Taking into account recent discussions with Member States on the EU's visa policy as a whole, the Commission has today proposed to strengthen this suspension mechanism to make it easier for Member States to notify circumstances leading to a possible suspension and enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative.

Further information, European Commission

Questions & Answers: Third Report on Progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap

Factsheet: Turkey's progress on the visa liberalisation roadmap

Questions & Answers: Implementing the EU-Turkey Agreement

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