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EP stops work on Turkey visa waiver

MEPs have stopped work on plans to give Turks visa-free access to the EU’s Schengen zone, putting a wider migrant deal in doubt, accoridng to EU Observer.

Group leaders in the European Parliament’s “conference of presidents” quietly suspended work on the file last Wednesday. Some of the lead MEPs on the dossier, the group coordinators in the civil liberties committee (LIBE), found out about the suspension on Monday (9 May).

“They [EP group leaders] decided to stop the whole thing,” the German centre-left coordinator Birgit Sippel told the website on Tuesday.

Judith Sargentini, a Dutch Green MEP, said EU parliament chief Martin Schulz suspended it because Turkey had not yet met all EU visa-free criteria.

“Schulz said we will only start processing the file when the 72 criteria have been met,” she said.

An MEP who did not want to be quoted said he’s also doing it to “make the parliament more important.”

Another said the decision will force the EU commission to first deal with all the outstanding issues in the deal before sending it back to the Parliament.

“The ball is back with the European commission,” said the MEP, who also did not want to be identified.

The European Commission last week proposed to lift the visa requirement by the end of June. It published an assessment on Turkey’s progress and said five out of 72 benchmarks still needed to be met.

Whatever the motives, that proposal is now sitting idly on Schulz’s desk.

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