Turkey’s negotiating card — stemming the growing refugee influx from its shores into Greece and the EU in return for visa-free travel within the Schengen Area — seems to be losing ground as EU officials appeared divided on Tuesday, saying Turkey still had a long way to go.
The European Commission says Turkey has not met seven basic accession criteria primary of which is ensuring rule of law and has failed to rework a questionable anti-terror law that has thus far “allowed” the imprisonment of political rivals and journalists. Austria went as far as to call for a freeze of membership talks between Turkey and the EU.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to discuss the issue with EU leaders at a summit on Thursday. The Commission had initially planned to propose deepening Europe’s customs union with Turkey. It should be noted that 27 EU member states wish to continue membership dialogue with Ankara.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, has repeatedly warned that he will withdraw from the March 18 deal and allow more than three million refugees into Europe if the visa waiver program isn’t implemented.