EU states agree to make it easier to suspend visa-free travel
European Union nations agreed Friday to make it easier to suspend its visa waiver programs with some countries, just as Turkey is trying to secure visa-free travel for its citizens, The New York Times reported citing the Associated Press.
EU interior and migration ministers sealed an agreement on the emergency brake system during talks in Brussels. The so-called "suspension mechanism" would come into play to ensure security and if a country fails to respect its obligations. It is aimed at new visa waiver programs that are in the works for Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Turkey, the report reads.
The waivers would grant citizens of the four visa-free travel in Europe for business or leisure purposes for up to 90 days. But many European states are concerned by the prospect of opening the EU's gates wider at a time when the bloc is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Read alsoVisa exemption to not mean right to work in EU – CommissionerThe EU officials have been at pains to point out that the mechanism applies to all visa waiver countries so that Turkey does not feel targeted.
To address concerns, the new emergency brake provides more grounds for suspending the visa waiver, notably if a country fails to readmit people who left its territory but are not allowed to stay in Europe.
Permanent monitoring would be put in place to ensure compliance and the respect of the original criteria sought by the EU for the visa-free travel — 72 conditions in Turkey's case.
Read also"No delay": EU assures visa liberalization for Ukraine going as plannedA suspension would also be much faster to put into action because the threshold for halting visa waivers would be lower, said Dutch Migration Minister Klaas Dijkhoff.
EU lawmakers must also endorse the scheme for it to come into force.