EU's Juncker: More time may be needed for Turkey visa-free access

More time than expected may be needed for Turkish citizens to get visa-free access to the European Union, a top official from the bloc said Wednesday, downplaying hopes on what has been a key demand from Ankara in exchange for its help on migration.

Turkey has in the past threatened to scrap a deal it has with the EU to stem migration flows if the bloc does not provide visa exemptions for Turkish nationals by October. But Brussels has insisted that Ankara first reform a controversial law on terrorism.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU parliamentarians on Wednesday that people should show more patience on issues relating to Turkey because of the difficult questions that need to be solved there.

"I am convinced that this is happening, but it will not necessarily be possible to do this in the foreseen timeframe," Juncker said during a debate at the European Parliament following his annual state of the union speech.

"Without a reform for example of the anti-terrorism law, it will not be possible to seriously envisage visa liberalization regarding Turkey for a specific date," he added.

The visa requirement for Turkish citizens travelling to the EU was originally due to be lifted in July, but the move was stalled because Turkey had not yet fulfilled all of 72 prerequisite criteria - notably the EU demand that it narrow its definition of terrorism.

There have been concerns that Ankara has used anti-terrorism laws to crack down on political opponents and the media. But Turkish officials say the requested reform is impossible given the current terrorist threat.

Last update: Wed, 14/09/2016 - 13:52
Author: 

More from Europe

10 Italian school classes vote "Mein Kampf" among their top books

Ten classes of Italian high-school students included Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" among their...

ECB meets overshadowed by threat of crisis in Italy

The European Central Bank met on Thursday to consider launching another round of monetary stimulus but the meeting...

Germany hit with EU legal action over VW emissions scandal

Germany could face hefty fines or an EU lawsuit after the European Commission said the country breached EU auto...

Dynamo Kiev and Besiktas charged for Champions League crowd trouble

Dynamo Kiev and Besiktas have been charged by European football governing body UEFA for the behaviour of their fans...

EU deal brings visa-free access closer for Ukraine

Visa-free access for Ukrainian citizens to the European Union came within reach late Wednesday when EU lawmakers...