The European Union and Turkey signed on December 16 2013 a readmission agreement that opens the way for the return to the respective territories of people who have entered illegally.
The agreement was signed in Ankara by European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Turkish interior minister Muammer Güler.
The same ceremony in the Turkish capital saw the formal start, with the participation of Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, of the EU-Turkey visa liberalisation dialogue.
Malmström said that the events made the day one of historical importance.
“Co-operation between the EU and Turkey has made a significant step forward,” Malmström said.
“We have started two initiatives in parallel which will boost the relations between Turkey and the EU and bring benefits for their citizens. I hope that the readmission agreement will now be ratified by the two sides without delay, and that the visa liberalisation dialogue will soon allow to register substantial progress,” she said.
According to a European Commission (EC) statement, the main objective of readmission agreement is to “establish, on the basis of reciprocity, procedures for the rapid and orderly readmission, by each side, of the persons having entered or areresiding on the territory of the other side in an irregular manner”.
The agreement includes provisions related both to the readmission of the nationals of EU member states and Turkey, and to the readmission of any other people (including third-country nationals and the stateless persons) that entered into, or stayed on, the territory of either sides directly arriving from the territory of the other side.
“The provisions of the agreement related to the readmission of the nationals of the two sides, and those related to the readmission of the stateless persons and nationals from third countries with which Turkey has concluded bilateral treaties or arrangements on readmission, will enter into force on the first day of the second month following the date on which the EU and Turkey will notify each other that their respective ratification procedures have been completed,” the EC said.
The provisions related to the readmission of any other third country nationals, instead, will enter into force only three years later.
The agreement will now be sent to the Council of the European Union, to the European Parliament, and to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for ratification.
The EC said that the aim of the EU-Turkey visa liberalisation dialogue is to make progress towards the elimination of the visa obligation currently imposed on Turkish citizens travelling to the Schengen area for a short term visit.
The dialogue will essentially consist of a screening of the Turkish legislation and administrative practices, which will be carried out by the EC on the basis of a document, drafted by the EC, called “Roadmap towards the visa-free regime with Turkey”.
This document lists the requirements which should be fulfilled by Turkey to allow the EC to present a proposal to the European Council and European Parliament to amend a 2001 EU regulation listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement, so as to move Turkey from its negative to the positive list.
Among the requirements included in the Roadmap many refer to the need to implement “in a full and effective manner” the readmission agreement, and “to manage the borders and the visa policy in such a manner as to effectively prevent irregular migration, to have secure travel documents, to establish migration and asylum systems in line with international standards, to have functioning structures for combating organised crime with focus on migrants’ smuggling and trafficking in human beings, to have in place and implement adequate forms of police and judicial cooperation with the EU member Ssates and the international community, and to respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and the foreigners with a specific attention to persons belonging to minorities and vulnerable categories”.
After the EC considers that all the requirements listed in the Roadmap are fulfilled and has presented its proposal to amend the 2001 regulation, this proposal will be voted by qualified majority by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.
“The Roadmap does not set a specific timetable by when the dialogue should be completed or this proposal should be presented, thus the speed of the process towards visa liberalisation will depend essentially on the progress which will be made by Turkey in addressing the requirements set out in the Roadmap.”
Within the framework of the support provided through the Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), the EC will support legal reforms and the development of administrative capacities which will be deemed “useful” to enable the Turkish authorities to better address the requirements set out in the Roadmap.