The European Commission is set to implement a plan to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel facility to Europe. Barring a last minute complication, the commission will announce on 4 May that Turkey has largely met the benchmarks set for the visa liberalisation, Reuters reports. The commission will ask the European Parliament and EU governments to approve the legislation by the end of June, several EU sources told Reuters.
A senior EU official, who is clued in to the negotiations between Turkey and the EU, said: "We have not lowered our standards. Turkey has raised its game."
The EU proposed 72 criteria to be fulfilled by Turkey by the deadline on Wednesday which include passport security, migration management, public order, human rights and readmission of irregular migrants. According to media reports, Turkey has met most of the criteria required but not all of them. The final decision on Turks travelling visa-free by the end of June will depend on the 28 country leaders who are members of the EU.
The deal EU made with Turkey on 18 March was a turning point in the refugee crisis and has significantly decreased the number of refugees coming into Europe. The EU risks collapse of the deal if it doesn't go ahead with the visa liberalisation, Politico says.
"The feeling of lack of trust on the visa [liberalisation] and on the camps [for refugees] is widespread. No one believes in it but we cannot say it openly because there is no alternative," an EU diplomat told Politico.
"This is a great opportunity for Europe to show it is a reliable partner and make it clear that they don't apply double standards when it comes to predominantly Muslim European nations such as Turkey," a Turkish government official said.