This week sees the EU offer visa free access to Turkey for the Schengen countries. In return the EU has set Turkey 72 tasks to improve her border controls, visa and passport handling and more general human rights improvements along with better access to asylum for those fleeing terror. Turkey has borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. The EU, in an effort to stop illegals coming by sea from Turkey to Greece, now has to be more concerned about Turkey’s borders with the Middle East. .
The UK government claims this has no impact on us, as we are not in Schengen. That is not true. The EU is paying for some of the improvements to Turkish migration handling and border security. The UK will be expected to pay her share of the costs through the EU budget – there is no separate Schengen area budget. The UK will be affected as more Turkish people enter the Schengen area and maybe gain citizen rights within the EU, allowing them entry as residents to the UK.
Reading the documents the EU is seeking to make Turkish systems and policies the same as EU ones. It is clearly preparatory to full Turkish membership of the EU, which is underway at a slow pace with a formal Turkish application. This border agreement could result in some speeding up of the full application, as it deals with many of the issues the EU has found difficult about Turkish membership in the past. The 72 measures Turkey has to implement for the visa free movements includes the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and no discrimination against people on racial or religious grounds. This week will see the EU say in terms that Turkey has gone far enough in fulfilling these requests to justify visa free status, whilst no doubt urging further improvement.
The Turkish authorities have to offer judicial protection to asylum seekers, and a proper appeals process. At the same time the EU is assisting Turkey to strengthen her borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. This according to the EU official report includes “ditch excavation, lighting, wire entanglement, trellis fence, road maintenance and construction and modular wall construction”. Turkey is required to negotiate readmission agreements with 14 countries including Afghanistan and Algeria, and to impose airport transit visas on travellers from 18 countries.
In 2013 25,121 “irregular” arrivals of people were recorded by Turkey.In 2015 this shot up to 888,457. Turkey is housing many Syrian refugees and others and wants help from the EU neighbours. As a result the EU’s border controls now require strong controls on the Turkish borders, and the UK along with all other member states has to help design and pay for a better border system for Turkey.