European Court of Justice rules out visa-free travel for Turks

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 The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECOJ) has refused to grant Turkish citizens the right to visa-free travel in European Union countries.

“Turkish nationals do not have the right to enter the territory of an EU Member State without a visa in order to obtain services,” the court said in a landmark decision today in the case of Turkish citizen Leyla Ecem Demirkan vs. Germany.

The case began in 2007 when the German state denied a visa to 14-year-old Demirkan, who wanted to go to Germany to live with her mother, Eylem Huber, and stepfather, Jörg Huber.

The family took the case to court first in Germany and then to the ECOJ, which had agreed with Turkey’s arguments in six previous visa cases.

 “Unlike the EU Treaties, the EEC-Turkey Association has a purely economic purpose, the Association Agreement and its Additional Protocol being intended essentially to promote the economic development of Turkey. The development of economic freedoms for the purpose of bringing about freedom of movement for persons of a general nature which may be compared to that afforded to EU citizens under the EU Treaties is not the object of the Association Agreement. The court also points out that the Association Council, which, in accordance with the Additional Protocol, is required to determine the timetable and rules for the progressive abolition of restrictions on freedom of establishment, has not, to date, adopted any measure which would suggest that substantive progress has been achieved towards the realization of such freedom. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate that the contracting parties to the Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol envisaged, when signing those documents – that is, 21 and 14 years before the judgment in Luisi and Carbone, respectively – freedom of provision of services as including passive freedom of provision of services,” the court said in its decision.

Turkey is currently conducting negotiations with the EU on easing visa procedures for Turkish citizens, but a readmission agreement which regulates the return of illegal immigrants to Turkey remains problematic.

 

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