08:55 GMT +318 October 2019
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    Not So Fast: EU 'Could Stop Turkey's Visa-Free Regime Immediately'

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    The EU Commission could suspend its visa-free agreement with Turkey at any time if it feels Ankara is not fulfilling the conditions, Dr. Matteo Garavoglia, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center on the United States and Europe, told Radio Sputnik.

    The EU has been demanding that Turkey fulfil the conditions which Brussels attached to the visa-free agreement for a number of years, even before the current migrant crisis, and has the right to suspend the deal at any time, Dr. Matteo Garavoglia, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center on the United States and Europe, told Radio Sputnik.

    ​"Turkey has managed to fulfil most of the requirements, but is still lagging behind in five key benchmarks, one or two of which are particularly challenging, and therefore the EU is saying if you fulfil them all, you'll get a visa-free regime."

    "One of these benchmarks, for example, is in data protection, whereby the EU is asking that legislation in Turkey has to be brought in line with EU standards, given the fact that certain data will now be shared between Turkish authorities and European authorities."

    Garavoglia does not believe that the EU will show flexibility on these issues, and that Ankara will have to accommodate the EU's demands, otherwise the promise of visa-free travel will continue to be postponed.

    "The hope that both parties had was that Turkey would manage to fulfil these requirements by the end of June. This looks increasingly unlikely regarding these remaining benchmarks, so therefore the date for the start of the visa-free regime might be postponed to October."

    "Indeed October was the date that was originally thought of, if you look at conclusions from the European Council and EU Commission from as early as November 2015."

    Garavogli said that "the ball is clearly in Ankara's court" in terms of the implementation of the reform deal, and that if the reforms don't happen, he thinks the EU will suspend the deal.

    "We are seeing a lot of domestic political turmoil within Turkey that will be the key issue. As you know, recently the Turkish President de facto fired its Prime Minister, and this was the Prime Minister that had struck the EU-Turkey deal. So there are a lot of questions being asked now that the Prime Minister has gone: will Erdogan stick to the agreement or will he try to drag his feet."

    He said the deal does not immediately offer all Turks visa-free entry to the EU, but gives them rights to be in the EU similar to Australians or Canadians.

    "First of all, people will need to have biometric passports, and they will be able to enter the EU for a total of 90 days within every 180 day period, for tourism or other purposes as such. But like tourists from the most advanced economies and advanced countries around the world."

    "But the interesting thing is that if the situation were to be deemed somehow deteriorating or if something were to be flagged up in terms of things not being run properly by the Turkish authorities, the EU Commission will be able to stop this visa-free regime immediately."

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    European Union, visa-free regime, visa-free, EU-Turkey migration summit, Turkey
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