On May 4, Brussels gave its approval to visa-free travel for Turks. That approval still needs to be ratified by a weighted average of ministers as well as the European parliament.
Just a few hours after the Brussels green light, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan sacked Ahmet Davutoglu, the prime minister who negotiated the deal with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
In between, Renzi and Merkel held a love fest with an extremely skeptical France on the sidelines.
Final result: Uncertain but is Merkel pulling her hair out as her scheme is set to collapse.
My, how things change in a day.
EU Set to Approve Deal With Turkey
Flashback May 4: Brussels Gives Green Light to Visa-Free Travel for Turks.
The European Commission has recommended that Turks be granted visa-free travel in the EU despite Ankara’s failure to revise its terrorism legislation to ensure that it does not lead to the prosecution of peaceful protesters and journalists.
Granting visa-free travel to Turkey was one of the most controversial concessions granted to Ankara as part of a deal to convince Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, to clamp down on the influx of refugees into the EU. The EU has also promised €6bn in aid and reopening negotiations on some elements of Turkey’s EU membership application.
The travel deal has strong backing in Germany, but several other EU members are skittish about the concession, particularly in France, where President François Hollande has faced withering criticism from the surging rightwing National Front party over the policy.
Bruno Le Maire, one of the contenders for the centre-right presidential nomination said on Wednesday that he “opposed” a decision made “in a hurry and without consulting national parliaments”, echoing views expressed by Nicolas Sarkozy, chairman of the Republicans party, as well as by Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader.
“Liberalising the visa regime means granting freedom of movement to Turkish citizens in Europe,” Mr Le Maire, a former agriculture minister, said. “In case of political or economic crisis in Turkey, will our societies have to bear the brunt of a potential influx of Turkish citizens?”
The programme must still clear both national ministers, who have to approve Turkey’s admission to the scheme by a weighted majority of member states, and the European parliament, where there were already signs that the scheme may be in trouble.
Manfred Weber, a conservative German MEP who heads the parliament’s largest party group, broke from his political ally Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying it was wrong for the commission to back the scheme.
“There must be no watering down of the rules on visa liberalisation for Turkey,” Mr Weber said. “It is hard to understand why the commission is now proposing visa liberalisation despite Turkey not meeting all the criteria.”
As you can see the deal was on shaky ground. It appears France was prepared to say no, and without a doubt Poland, Slovokia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Austria were adamantly opposed to the deal.
But Italy is in favor.
Merkel-Renzi Love Fest
Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, issued a stinging rebuke of Austria’s far-right Freedom party as he joined forces with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to criticise Vienna’s policy of building fences to keep out refugees.
At a press conference in Rome that showed Mr Renzi and Ms Merkel to be on warmer terms than they have been in recent months, the two leaders appeared to converge on criticism of Austria’s decision to erect a fence at its southern borders, including the Alpine Brenner Pass.
“We expressed our clear disagreement and shock at certain positions taken by our Austrian friends at the Brenner. They are mistaken and anachronistic positions. They defy logic and history and are not justified by any emergency,” Mr Renzi said.
Mr Renzi has been pushing for the EU to strike deals with African countries to curb migration flows in exchange for development aid, akin to the contentious agreement struck in March between Brussels and Turkey.
Ms Merkel backed the idea, but Italy and Germany still disagree on how to finance such a plan. Italy has proposed joint EU bonds, but Berlin has opposed that idea and the pair remain at loggerheads over a funding mechanism.
Finance and Logic Disagreement
Renzi says Austria defies logic. Actually, it is Renzi and Merkel who defy logic.
Who is supposed to pay for Merkel’s idiotic schemes?
Heck, Merkel and Renzi could not even agree on how to finance a tiny piece of the problem, let alone the entire inane deal.
Bribes Enter the Picture
Voting is weighted so let’s presume #1 Germany and #3 Italy vote yes. Let’s presume #2 France votes no. #4 Spain, pretty much isolated from the problem could easily be persuaded to vote yes. All it would take is a bit of leniency in meeting its budget targets.
It’s not quite that simple because the deal must me approved by both a weighted majority of member states, and the European parliament. But if bribes are what’s needed then one should expect bribes.
All Hell Breaks Loose
Unfortunately for Merkel, but fortunately for any level-thinking EU citizen, the Turkish prime minister who negotiated the deal with Merkel was forced out of office by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a power struggle.
A pivotal deal to staunch the flow of migrants from Turkey into the EU, masterminded by Angela Merkel, German chancellor, is in doubt after Turkey’s pro-European prime minister resigned.
Ahmet Davutoglu, who personally negotiated the deal with Ms Merkel, quit on Thursday following a power struggle with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The premier’s departure imperils an agreement credited with sharply reducing the influx of asylum-seekers into the EU — and rescuing Ms Merkel from a potentially fatal political backlash.
Without reforms to Turkey’s antiterrorism and anti-corruption laws, which Mr Erdogan has angrily resisted, Brussels may be unable to grant some of the most important concessions in the deal — a move that Ankara has already warned would cancel its obligation to curtail refugee crossings into Greece.
When Ms Merkel set out to persuade sceptical EU countries to back the migrant deal, one of her central arguments, according to diplomats, was that it would shore up the pro-European faction in Ankara, led by Mr Davutoglu.
Instead, the deal hastened the demise of her main Turkish ally and left the pro-Europeans seriously weakened.
EU officials said that they believed that the visa-waiver deal was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in the Davutoglu-Erdogan rift. The final breakdown came just hours after the European Commission recommended the deal go forward Wednesday, with the Brussels leadership making clear they saw it as a way to pull Ankara back into the EU’s sphere.
European lawmakers who must now approve the deal say they are becoming increasingly wary.
“If this was an isolated incident, you could say it’s just an internal affair,” said Marietje Schaake, a Dutch liberal who has become a leading voice on Turkey in the European parliament. “But we’ve seen a series of incidents that are clearly a pattern towards authoritarianism. It’s time the EU starts to connect the dots and see it for what it is.”
What Went Down
- Merkel went behind the backs of EU officials to negotiate a deal with the Turkish prime minister.
- The Turkish prime minister went behind the back of Turkish president Erdogan.
- Being the complete fools they are, the EC praised Turkey, giving a green light to the deal.
- Within hours of the EC’s approval, Erdogan canned his prime minister.
- All hell breaks loose.
A weighted majority of ministers still have to approve Merkel’s preposterous agreement as does the European parliament.
If either group comes to its senses, this deal collapses.
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Mike “Mish” Shedlock