Although negotiations between Turkey and the EU continue over a readmission deal on illegal migrants, signals of agreement are coming from the European side.
EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle posted a message on his Twitter account on Tuesday in which he said: “In Istanbul on my way to Georgia. Hope to be back here soon for launch of visa dialogue and sign of readmission agreement.”
The Turkish side, cautious over the matter, has made its position clear. While the EU has insisted Turkey sign a readmission deal on illegal migrants before the European body starts talks to facilitate visa requirements for Turkish nationals, Turkey has made it clear that it would not sign the deal if visa-free travel is not granted by the EU.
The readmission agreement is supposed to regulate procedures and share the burden of illegal migrants who reach Europe via Turkey and are caught in EU member states.
Officials from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and EU Affairs Ministry were scheduled to have a meeting over the issue on Thursday. EU member countries are against Turkey’s condition, which is visa-free travel in return for the readmission deal. The countries are not expected to authorize the European Union Commission to appeal the decision. Ankara’s formula is that it would add a unilateral additional declaration.
According to the readmission agreement’s conditions, anyone who illegally enters into EU territories will be sent back to Turkey. This article will be enforced right after the approval of the agreement if Turkish citizens are involved, but will enter into force in three years if the illegal migrants are citizens of a third country.
The readmission agreement will be signed by Turkey but this does not mean Turkey will be granted the visa exemption immediately. It will start harmonizing its visa procedures with the EU in accordance with the EU acquis communautaire, and when this is completed, it will be given the visa exemption. The EU Commission will monitor this process of harmonization with Turkey, remaining in dialogue with member states of the bloc.
When Turkey completes this harmonization, the commission will take the issue to the EU Council, the ultimate decision-making mechanism of the EU. The member states will then vote on Turkey’s visa exemption. However, a consensus will not be sought for Turkey to get the visa exemption, meaning that no country will be able to unilaterally block the process.
A decision will be made in accordance with a weighted vote by member states — member states are given a voting coefficient parallel to their population size. Despite all this, EU heavyweights France and Germany are expected to have a significant influence on the decision.