Turkey, EU to launch talks for Europol agreement
Sevil Erkuş – ANKARA
Turkey and the European Union Commission will launch talks on Nov. 30 for an agreement between Ankara and the European Police Service (Europol) which is one of the benchmarks for visa free travel for Turkish nationals.
Turkish and EU officials last week met in Ankara for High Level Dialogue meeting and the two sides reconfirmed their intention to continuing the visa liberalization dialogue to implement all pending benchmarks.
Concluding and implementing an operational cooperation agreement with Europol is among the remaining six benchmarks to launch the visa talks as part of a refugee deal between Ankara and Brussels.
“In the framework of the Visa Liberalization Roadmap benchmarks, Turkey has started to issue second-generation passports as of 2nd April and the negotiations for an operational cooperation agreement between the European Union and Turkey on exchange of personal data between Europol and the Turkish authorities competent for fighting serious crime and terrorism will start on 30 November,” a joint statement following the high level political dialogue between the EU and Turkey said.
In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey. The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.
Remaining regulations expected to be fulfilled by Turkey for visa liberalization are as follows: Signing of a legal cooperation agreement with EU member countries, preparing third-generation passports, reviewing the law on the protection of personal data, reviewing draconian anti-terrorism legislation, and drawing an action plan to harmonize with the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) -- the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body.
Turkey missed a change to meet necessary requirements and make the deal with the Europol in 2017. If Ankara had conveyed this roadmap before May 1, 2017, the collaboration agreement with Europol could have been settled more easily. However, the EU changed its bylaw on that date and all EU members now have to approve the agreement. These negotiations are expected to last for more than a year.
Moreover, Turkey has to finalize bilateral judicial cooperation agreements with each EU member state. Therefore, the deal requires a bilateral judicial cooperation agreement with the Greek Cyprus as well.
But since Turkey does not officially recognize the Greek Cypriot administration, Ankara and Brussels have been discussing alternative ways to realize the agreement.
Berlin proposed to undertake necessary operations between Turkey and Greek Cyprus through the German government, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity.
Turkey, first of all, must make necessary legislative amendments on data protection so that the deal with Europol can be realized for an operation agreement paving the way for the exchange of personal data on security issues, because the Union wants to secure personal data of more than 500 million people within the EU zone.
Once this is done, Europol and the Turkish police would be able to exchange personal data on terror organizations along with other organized crime and human trafficking networks.