The European Commission said yesterday (5 May) that Turkish citizens could travel visa-free to the Schengen area by the end of June, while also admitting that national parliaments may stop the deal. The EU executive praised Turkey for a quick achievement of the necessary conditions for a visa-free travel and its outstanding ability to deliver.
The final decision to lift the visa requirement has been promised as part of the deal under which Ankara committed itself to take back migrants arriving to the Greek islands from the Turkish territory. Visa-free travel for Turkish nationals would apply to all EU countries except for the UK and Ireland as well as to all four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
Since the last meeting between both parties in mid-March, Turkey has managed to implement most of the EU’s requirements needed before the visa could be lifted. There are five remaining benchmarks that still need to be implemented but they are considered just a formality. Ankara has generally used the migrant crisis to boost the relations with the EU, which mostly includes the coveted visa-free travel as well as a resumption of the stalled EU accession talks. In an effort to achieve the two things, Turkey has tried hard to stick to the migrant deal, which has become evident in recent days. Ankara has for example almost completely closed the main Aegean route for migrants.
The Commission is making all efforts to make it clear to the Member States that Turkey must abide by all necessary requirements needed for a visa-free travel regardless of the migrant deal, although Brussels has emphasized that the visa-free travel is linked to the deal. Moreover, the possible decision in favor of Turkey also contains a safeguard clause in case of massive arrivals of its citizens.