Terrorists are more likely to attack European countries as a result of a controversial deal to allow Turkish citizens to travel across the continent without visas, EU leaders have admitted.
Foreign terrorists and organised criminals are “expected” to seek Turkish passports to reach continental Europe “as soon as” the visa waiver programme comes into force, a European Commission report said.
Turkey’s 75 million citizens will have the right to enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days at a time with biometric passports from the end of June if Ankara passes key anti-corruption and terrorism reforms.
The decision was part of a hastily assembled deal brokered by Brussels to halt the flow of migrants from Turkey to Greece.
However, the European Commission report acknowledges the “increased mobility into the Schengen area of criminals and terrorists who are citizens of Turkey, or who are foreigners based in Turkey”.
The European Commission has recently also proposed visa-free travel deals with Kosovo, Ukraine and Georgia, which are blighted by organised crime.
“The proposed visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens travelling to the EU could potentially have an impact on the terrorist risk in the EU in as far as the movement of terrorists of Turkish citizenship to and from the Schengen area is concerned,” the report states.