Freedom of Movement Rights of Turkish Nationals in the European Union

33 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2012 Last revised: 17 May 2014

See all articles by Orhun Hakan Yalincak

Orhun Hakan Yalincak

University of Oxford, Centre for Criminology, Law Faculty, Alumnus; University of Durham, Alumnus; State University of New York (ESC), Alumnus

Date Written: 2013


This paper is concerned with the evolving free movement rights of Turkish nationals in the European Union (‘EU’). The right to move freely represents one of the fundamental freedoms of the internal market, as well as an essential political element of the package of rights linked to the very status of citizenship of the EU. Given the fact that the holding of the nationality of a Member State is the condition sine qua non for acquiring citizenship of the EU, Turkish nationals are clearly not yet citizens of the EU; at best, they can be described as “EU citizens in being.” While the rights granted to Turkish nationals by the EU, are amongst the most extensive granted to third country nationals (‘TCNs’), the outer limits of their freedom of movement rights are firmly rooted in the specific free movement provisions in EU-Turkey Association Law. This naturally gives rise to several inter-related question: how far should the free movement rights granted to EU nationals be extended to Turkish nationals, as citizens of an accession state? How do the freedom of movement rights of Turkish nationals compare with EU nationals? The freedom of movement rights for Turkish nationals, within the context of Turkey-EU relations, has been an important issue for Turkish citizens ever since 1980 when strict visa requirements were introduced. This problem confronts all strata of Turkish society, including the business community, the academic world, students, journalists, and almost 3 million family members of Turkish nationals living in the EU. This paper shows that the free movement rights of Turkish nationals under EU-Turkey Association law is independent of the political talks surrounding the re-admission agreement and “visa dialogue,” which are aimed at gradually permitting free movement in the EU for Turkish nationals. This paper shows that under the text of the AA, and as confirmed by ECJ case law, Turks have substantial free movement rights within the EU arising from EU-Turkey Association Law and these new agreements and requirements are evidence that the political consideration of the EU block continue to trump the legal considerations. This paper also touches on the ECJ’s much anticipated pending judgement in C-221/11 Demirkan, which holds the potential to significantly expand the free movement rights of Turkish nationals in the EU.

Keywords: European Union, EU Nationals, Turkish Nationals, Ankara Agreement, EU-Turkey Association Law, free movement of goods, services and persons, economically active, economically inactive, citizens rights directive, Demirel, Demirkan, Soysal, Tum, Dari, Kurz, Orhun H. Yalincak, Orhun Hakan Yalincak

Suggested Citation

Yalincak, Orhun Hakan, Freedom of Movement Rights of Turkish Nationals in the European Union (2013). (2013) 19 Colum. J. Eur. L. 391., Available at SSRN: or

Orhun Hakan Yalincak (Contact Author)

University of Oxford, Centre for Criminology, Law Faculty, Alumnus ( email )

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University of Durham, Alumnus ( email )

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State University of New York (ESC), Alumnus ( email )

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