Clandestine migrants from the EU to Turkey or Turkey to the EU would have to be returned under an EU-Turkey “readmission” agreement signed by both parties on 16 December and endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. The return rule would apply not only to EU nationals and Turks, but also to third-country nationals who enter either the EU or Turkey via the other.

"The readmission agreement will benefit Turkey as well as the European Union. Now it is up to Turkey to fulfil its obligations to implement the agreement in full", said rapporteur Renate Sommer (EPP, DE).

The agreement, which the committee approved by 34 votes to 7 with one abstention, lays down obligations and procedures for taking back “irregular” migrants entering or living clandestinely in Turkey or the EU. It would oblige both sides to readmit their own nationals, third-country nationals without residence documents and stateless persons who entered either the EU or Turkey via the other.

Ms Sommer added that the readmission agreement “would make a significant contribution to curbing irregular immigration into the EU via Turkey, help combat cross-border crime, particularly human trafficking, and relieve the pressure on Greece and hence on the EU as a whole”.

EU funding for border surveillance

Under the agreement, Turkey will get EU financial and technical help to build up its border police and install border surveillance equipment. This should help Turkey to make its borders with neighbouring countries, such as Syria, Iran and Iraq, more secure.

Next steps

To enter into force, the readmission agreement still needs to be approved by Parliament as a whole in a forthcoming plenary session, and then formally ratified by the EU and by Turkey.

Its provisions on EU and Turkish nationals would take effect two months after ratification is completed, but those on nationals from third countries with which Turkey has not concluded bilateral arrangements would take effect only three years later.

On the day when the readmission agreement was signed, 16 December, the EU and Turkey also launched a “visa liberalisation” dialogue to make progress towards eliminating the visa requirement for Turkish citizens who wish to travel to the Schengen area for short stays.

In the chair: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES)

Procedure: consent