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Brussels, 26 June 2014
Statement by Cecilia Malmström on the ratification of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement by the Turkish Parliament
I welcome today's ratification by the Turkish Parliament of the Readmission Agreement signed in December, as it represents a significant step forward in the cooperation between the European Union and Turkey. The Agreement reflects our shared interest for a more effective migration and border management setting out clear obligations and procedures for the authorities of Turkey and the EU Member States in order to swiftly return persons who are irregularly residing on their territories, in full respect of international law and fundamental rights. A full and effective implementation of the Readmission Agreement is also one of the requirements included in the Roadmap towards the Visa-free regime with Turkey, and today's decision by the Turkish Parliament represents an important progress in the perspective of visa liberalisation.
On 16 December 2013, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, signed in Ankara, with the Turkish authorities, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement, and initiated, jointly with Turkish authorities, the EU-Turkey Visa liberalisation dialogue.
The main objective of the EU-Turkey 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 are residing on the territory of the other side in an irregular manner.
The agreement includes provisions related both to the readmission of the nationals of the EU Member States and Turkey, and to the readmission of any other persons (including the 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 provisions related to the readmission of any other third country nationals, instead, will enter into force only three years later.
The aim of the EU-Turkey visa liberalisation dialogue is to make progress towards the elimination of the visa obligation currently imposed on the 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 Commission on the basis of a document, elaborated by the latter, called "Roadmap towards the visa-free regime with Turkey".
This document lists the requirements which should be fulfilled by Turkey to allow the Commission to present a proposal based on solid grounds to the Council and the Parliament to amend the EC Regulation 539/2001, 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, inter alia, to the need to implement in a full and effective manner the readmission agreement, 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 States 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.
Once the Commission considers that all the requirements listed in the Roadmap are fulfilled and has presented its proposal to amend the EC Regulation 539/2001, 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 Commission will support the 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.