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ranting Turkey free visa travel within the European Union will have "serious ramifications" for the security of Europe, UK member of the European Parliament (MEP) Stephen Woolfe told Sputnik Tuesday.
"This deal will have serious ramifications on the security of the rest of Europe," Woolfe said.
"The EU's own security organization, Frontex, has already said the Schengen zone and the inability to check those traveling through Europe, poses a security risk to Europe and the UK. Turkey, as an EU member state, would be the gateway from the Middle East into Europe with it bordering Syria, Iran and Iraq, countries which have a strong ISIS presence," Woolfe added.
The lawmaker made the comments after media reports emerged earlier indicating that backing for visa-free travel for Turks across the European Union will likely be approved Wednesday. This move will allow Turkey’s 79-million population free movement across the bloc.
The move follows a EU-Turkey deal aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants and refugees from the Middle East entering Europe via Turkey. According to Woolfe, who also serves as the UK Independence Party (UKIP)'s frontbench spokesman on migration and financial affairs, the decision to allow Turks free visa travel to Europe, will become an important issue in public debate ahead of a Brexit referendum, scheduled for June 23.
"Granting Turkey visa free access to the Schengen zone is another step to Turkey's membership of the European Union. As Turkish membership edges closer, this should be a central focus for the UK Brexit debate. Turkey joining the EU will have serious impacts on the United Kingdom, if we vote to remain in June," Woolfe told Sputnik.
The lawmaker also warned that based on official Turkish and UN figures, if admitted to the European Union Turkey would eventually have the largest population of any member state in the European Union.
In mid-March, the European Union and Ankara agreed on a deal under which Turkey pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory in exchange for Syrian refugees accommodated in Turkey, on a one-for-one basis. In return, the 28-member bloc pledged to accelerate the Turkish EU accession bid and introduce a visa-free regime between Turkey and Europe.
Turkey has yet to meet EU requirements on human rights, press freedom and minority treatment before qualifying for the free travel deal.