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The EU visa suspension mechanism

08 February 2017
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Visa liberalisation will be high up on the EU agenda in 2017, with the Union about to waive visa requirements for 45 million Ukrainians and 5 million Georgians. Kosovo is hoping for near visa-free travel, as is Turkey: the Turkish government has repeatedly emphasised that only a visa waiver will guarantee a continuation of its efforts to curb the flow of irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea. Against this background, in December 2016 the EU agreed to undertake reforms in order to be able to re-introduce visa requirements in a quicker, easier fashion (the so-called visa suspension mechanism). This is conceived as an insurance mechanism for the EU should migration flows run out of control or a partner renege on reform commitments. But how feasible is it actually for the EU to trigger the mechanism – or indeed to resist triggering it?