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EU considers restrictions on visa-free travel for Turks

France and Germany want to end visa-free travel for Turkish citizens if EU states get too many asylum applications from them
Passengers queue up to fly out of Istanbul airport (AFP)

The EU may set up an emergency brake on visa-free travel from countries including Turkey, which is set to win that right as part of its migrant deal with Brussels, under a plan formulated by Germany and France and seen by AFP on Thursday.

Turkey has demanded its citizens be allowed to enter the EU's passport free Schengen zone without visas by June, in exchange for it taking back migrants from Europe.

The European Commission is due to to decide on 4 May whether Turkey has met the conditions, but there are still widespread concerns among many of the EU's 28 member states.

Turkey has threatened to pull out of the migrant deal if the EU does not agree to the visa scheme.

Under a proposal by France and Germany, there would be a mechanism for suspending visa-free travel for "third country nationals" - such as Turkey, but also other nations benefiting from similar deals with the EU.

"We therefore suggest to develop what is referred to as a snap-back mechanism which would, in a transparent procedure, suspend visa-free travel for nationals of third countries which are exempted from the visa requirement but no longer meet specific criteria," said the plan.

The snap-back mechanism would also apply to nationals from Georgia, which like Turkey is discussing visa-free travel with the EU.

The French and German amendment proposes three situations in which visa-free travel for these countries would be suspended on an emergency basis.

These include if there is a “substantial increase” in numbers of people “staying in a member state unlawfully,” meaning that if people who arrive without visas fail to leave the EU when required, and if there is a large increase in the numbers of asylum requests from the non-EU state.

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