08:25 GMT27 January 2021
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    Germany and France have prepared a plan to enable the European Union to apply an "emergency brake" to future visa-free travel deals with Turkey and other non-EU member countries, the US weekly Politico reported Thursday, citing a document it obtained.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The European Union is now negotiating visa-free travel with four countries: Georgia, Peru, Ukraine and Turkey.

    "Current migration and refugee trends make it necessary to have an efficient mechanism in place to suspend visa liberalization," the document dated Wednesday reads.

    Visa-free travel with Turkey is one of the key provisions of the EU-Turkish refugee swap deal according to which Ankara has to take back migrants who entered the European Union illegally and in return the bloc will accept Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey.

    The Franco-German plan would pave the way for cancelling the visa-free regime with Turkey and other states if too many migrants from those countries came to the European Union. This mechanism also can temper domestic criticism of the proposal to liberalize the visa regime with Turkey which is growing in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and Austria.

    According to a regulation adopted in 2013, Brussels can revoke visa-free travel for up to three months in cases where there is a "substantial" increase in the number of citizens from the country in question remaining in an EU member state unlawfully after entering as tourists, or an increase in the number of asylum requests from that country, or an increase in the number of rejected requests for readmission being issued to citizens of that country.

    It is proposed under the new plan that the European Commission would also pay attention to "increases in crime, efficiency of the fight against corruption, organized crime, document fraud, illegal border-crossings and overall quality of cooperation in the field of readmission of irregular migrants."

    Introducing the new criteria for countries that already have visa-free travel in place with the European Union would allow Brussels to accelerate the procedure of suspending the practice.

    "The whole procedure should be faster than the current one, which takes at least 9 months," it is claimed in the document.

    The initiative comes amid growing EU criticism of Turkey because of reports of human rights violations and the curtailment of media freedom in the country.


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    refugees, visa-free regime, Turkey, France, Germany
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