A panel of UK lawmakers said it's concerned about risks to the European Union from organized crime and illegal immigration if Turkey joins because of inadequate security along the country's borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Turkey must demonstrate “clearly and objectively” that it's met stringent criteria set by the EU for the management of its frontiers before it can join, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said in a report released in London on Monday. The study by the committee raises “real concerns” about extending the EU's border as far as Iran, Iraq and Syria in the event of Turkey's membership.
“Current migration of Turkish nationals to the EU has declined to below 50,000 a year, but population trends and the gap in living standards could make easier migration within the EU an attractive option for Turkish citizens,” says the report.
“Given the UK's experience after the 2004 enlargement, when many thousands more migrants arrived than expected, the committee is cautious about allowing Turkish citizens full freedom of movement and supports the government's commitment to applying ‘effective transitional controls as a matter of course' for all new member states,” says the report.
Turkey's bid to join the EU has stalled, with the country having completed negotiations in only one of 35 policy areas. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy oppose Turkish membership, while UK Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on a trip to Ankara last year to be the “strongest possible advocate” for Turkish accession.
The lawmakers suggested amending EU legislation to allow more effective collaboration between EU and Turkish border agencies and to boost cooperation on law enforcement issues. The British parliamentarians' report also drew attention to Turkey's role as a “key nexus point” for the transit of illegal immigrants to the EU by criminal groups -- which it said reached “crisis levels” at the end of 2010.
The study quoted Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency, stating that Turkish criminal groups are “significantly involved in various forms of organized criminality,” including the trafficking of heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs into Europe as well as firearms trafficking, money laundering and copyright offences.
However, the report concluded that the risks posed by organized crime were “considerably outweighed” by the benefits of accession, given that Turkey would have to meet higher standards of crime fighting and international cooperation if it attained membership.