EU agrees to faster progress on Turkey visa waiver

24 Mar 16

, TURKEY

IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? One of the provisions in an EU-Turkey agreement on refugees reached last week would accelerate Turkey’s path to visa liberalization with a target goal of implementing a visa waiver for Turkish citizens by the end of June.

What does the change mean? The agreement requires that Turkey meet a large number of goals that are likely to delay the target date.

  • Implementation time frame: Target goal of end of June 2016.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visa waiver.
  • Who is affected: Turkish nationals making short-term trips to the Schengen area.
  • Business impact: The visa waiver would remove consular visa procedures and make business travel easier between Turkey and mainland Europe.
  • Next steps: Turkey must meet remaining targets contained in the visa liberalization roadmap.

Background: The EU and Turkey reached the agreement Friday, mainly addressing the refugee crisis. Turkey agreed to accept the return of new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece and to prevent new routes of irregular migration into Europe. The EU will disburse the €3 billion previously agreed on and will mobilize an additional €3 billion to help settle refugees in Turkey.

The visa liberalization provision calls for acceleration of the EU-Turkey roadmap with the intention of eliminating visa requirements by the end of June. Last year, the parties also discussed reinvigorating the process and proposed a target date of October 2016 for visa liberalization.

BAL Analysis: The refugee crisis has prompted Europe to promise an accelerated schedule for elimination of visas for Turkish nationals, but Turkey must first meet dozens of requirements under the EU-Turkey roadmap, and they are likely to postpone the implementation date beyond June. As Ireland and the U.K. are not members of the Schengen region, any visa waiver between Schengen countries and Turkey will not apply to them.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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