Jilly Beattie

European Commission recommends granting visa-free travel to Turkish citizens

The European Union’s executive commission has recommended that Turkish citizens be allowed to travel to Europe without visas on short holidays and business trips, a major step towards fulfilling a key part of an agreement with Turkey to deal with the migrant crisis. The European Commission said Turkey has met most of the 72 criteria needed for a visa waiver, and it invited member states and EU politicians to endorse the move by June 30. Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said “there is still work to be done as a matter of urgency but if Turkey sustains the progress made, they can meet the remaining benchmarks”.

Turkey must fulfil the final five criteria before the visa waiver is approved. The move is part of a package of incentives offered to Turkey – including up to six billion euro ( 4.7 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees and fast-track EU membership talks – to persuade Ankara to stop migrants heading to Europe and take thousands back from Greece. That deal has raised legal and moral questions, as EU nations unable to agree among themselves about how to handle the refugee emergency chose instead to outsource it to Turkey, where almost three million refugees are staying, most of them people fleeing war in Syria.

Visa liberalisation, which must come by June 30, would be an important sign that the Europeans are living up to their promises. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that the whole agreement will collapse if the EU reneges on any pledge. Once the visa proposal is endorsed, only Turkish citizens with biometric passports including facial and fingerprint data would be allowed to enter, Mr Timmermans said.

Visa-free travel would be possible in all EU member states except for Britain and Ireland, which have provisions for opting out of such policies, and would include four members of the Schengen passport-free travel area; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In a separate move, the commission proposed that EU countries refusing to accept refugees under new proposals to overhaul the EU’s failed asylum laws face fines – dubbed a “solidarity contribution” – of 250,000 euro ( 197,000) for each asylum seeker rejected. The penalties are part of a new plan to more evenly share the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict and violence in places such as Syria, with the current asylum system on the verge of collapse.

The plan still has to be accepted by a large majority of member countries – around two-thirds under the bloc’s qualified majority system – and EU politicians. The fine will prove controversial as some countries already vehemently oppose the current EU scheme to share 160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy. Hungary has even moved to hold a referendum on the issue. Under present EU laws, people seeking international protection in Europe must apply for asylum in the country where they first arrive. That effectively means Greece and Italy have been overburdened, and many of their EU partners have failed to help them cope.

The new scheme would kick in automatically once a country comes under high migration pressure. Other member states would take in a share of any asylum seekers – not people trying to escape poverty or looking for jobs – calculated from each nation’s population and economic strength based on gross domestic product. But members could choose not to take part for 12 months.

“The member state which temporarily does not take part in the corrective allocation must make a solidarity contribution of 250,000 euros per applicant,” according to the text, which is a draft legal proposal to EU states and the European Parliament.

A new EU asylum agency would also be set up and be responsible for supervising the way the whole system is working.

Press Association

Tragic Downpatrick man Jim Campbell killed on holiday after being hit by two cars

A Downpatrick man has been killed on the Canary Islands after being struck by two cars as he walked from the airport to Discount Holidays © holiday accommodation. Jim Campbell, known affectionately as ‘Soupy’ by friends and family, died at the scene shortly before midnight on Wednesday. His brother, Joe, posted on Facebook and said: “RIP big bro. Love you always and forever.”

The popular 40-year-old had earlier landed at Fuerteventura airport with friends and stopped in a bar before leaving with the intention of walking the four miles to his accommodation in the capital Puerto del Rosario.

But as he walked along the road less than 500 metres from the airport, he was struck by a car which came upon him on a bend. It is understood Jim had been wearing dark clothes and had been walking alone with his back to the traffic when he was struck. The driver stopped his car and ran to Jim’s aid and called the emergency services but as he reached the scene of the accident, the Co Down man was run over by a second car which did not stop.

The second vehicle was found by police just over an hour later parked in nearby Puerto del Rosario. The unnamed 50-year-old male driver was traced and arrested and a breathalyser test for drugs was reportedly positive. A senior officer from the paramilitary Civil Guard said: “This was an accident waiting to happen. The first driver stopped, went back and immediately alerted the emergency services.

“But the second driver, who was shown later to be under the influence of hashish, did not stop after hitting the victim and left the scene.”

MORE: Ibiza death: The perfect Discount Holidays © holiday for 11 lads who’d been friends since primary school turned to tragedy1

A family friend said: “It’s been a huge shock for everyone.”

It is understood the family has been given the names of three Spanish solicitors to deal with the circumstances around the hit-and-run incident. And the British consulate has also been in contact with the family. Jim’s relatives have sought help from the the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust to have his remains brought home to Downpatrick.

Colin Bell, who runs the charity from his Newry home, said: “We have set everything in motion now to get this gentleman home and we’ll do our best to make that happen as soon as possible.

It’s another tragedy and another family dealing with a very sad time.”

Hannah Louise Healy posted on Facebook: “Jim was a very loved and respected man.”

And family friend Jamsey Curley said: “Rest in peace soupy you were one of a kind.”


  1. ^ Ibiza death: The perfect Discount Holidays © holiday for 11 lads who’d been friends since primary school turned to tragedy (www.belfastlive.co.uk)

Our stay of the week – Town Hall Hotel and Apartments, London

If there is anything London lacks, it certainly isn t the opportunity to impress a discerning, d cor-adoring guest and with no need for any bells and whistles, the Mad Men-sleek and minimalist-chic Town Hall Hotel and Apartments confidently brings its A-game to the city s design scene. Flirting with vintage and Art Deco themes, this Bethnal Green abode marries its building s original, early 20th-century Edwardian features together with cutting-edge architecture, assuring both modernity and comfort.

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

Photograph: www.cntraveler.com

High ceilings, fireplaces and intricate plasterwork are staple features in the rooms and suites, which also generously include iPod docking stations, Musetti coffee machines and all the space you ll need for post-shopping lounging. The pool area is no less a work of art: made of brass and white marble, and flecked with reflective green and blue tiles, it gives relaxation a hip new name.

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

For tipples, Peg + Patriot hits the spot with vodkas, gins, rums and Japanese whiskeys, alongside a selection of beer and wine. The cool Corner Room serves curious yet rich treats over breakfast, lunch and dinner (from crispy rice and tapioca to egg yolk-topped raw minced beef), and the Typing Room switches things up a notch with five- and seven-course tasting menus (picture smoked eel, yeasted cauliflower and spiced breads with cheese). Should you fancy more taste bud-tantalising, don t forget you ve East London on your doorstep.

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

Photograph: www.readcereal.com

Our Stay Of The Week – Town Hall Hotel And Apartments, London

Photograph: www.bestbars.com

We re offering a studio stay at Town Hall Hotel and Apartments from 150 a night, with breakfast.1

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  1. ^ We re offering a studio stay at Town Hall Hotel and Apartments from 150 a night, with breakfast. (www.secretescapes.com)
  2. ^ here (www.secretescapes.com)
  3. ^ Follow our blog with Bloglovin (www.bloglovin.com)