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ECAA Turkish Businessperson Visa: The Standstill Clause

The European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) was set up under the Ankara Agreement of 1963 – before the UK joined the EU.  The aim was to promote economic relations between Turkey and the community and lead to accession of Turkey to the (now) EU.  In this post, which forms part of a series of posts on the Turkish Businessperson visa, we ask what is the standstill clause and what does it mean for ECAA Turkish Businessperson visa applications?

Why are Turkish business people different from any others?

The Additional Protocol developed the 1963 provisions in relation to restricting freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services, and required that states do not introduce any new restrictions on the freedom of establishment or freedom to provide services.  This requirement for states to refrain from restricting action is also referred to as a ‘standstill clause’ and means that national restrictions which are less favourable simply cannot be applied to citizens of Turkey. 

To discuss your ECAA Ankara Agreement Turkish Businessperson visa application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our ECAA Ankara Agreement visa lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

What is a new restriction and when is it not allowed?

It is clear that new restrictions are prohibited unless the restriction is justified by an overriding reason in the public interest, is suitable to achieve the legitimate objective pursued and does not go beyond what is necessary in order to attain it (C‑225/12, Demir, ECLI:EU:C:2013:725, paragraph 40).

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently confirmed the correct approach to restrictions and standstill clause in Ankara Agreement applications.  In its judgment in Case C‑89/18, A, ECLI:EU:C:2019:580the Court of Justice ruled that: 

“Article 13 of Decision No 1/80 of 19 September 1980 on the development of the Association, adopted by the Association Council set up by the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Economic Community and Turkey, signed at Ankara on 12 September 1963 by the Republic of Turkey, on the one hand, and by the Member States of the EEC and the Community, on the other hand, and concluded, approved and confirmed on behalf of the Community by Council Decision 64/732/EEC of 23 December 1963, must be interpreted as meaning that a national measure which makes family reunification between a Turkish worker legally resident in the Member State concerned and his spouse conditional upon their overall attachment to that Member State being greater than their overall attachment to a third country, constitutes a ‘new restriction’, within the meaning of that provision. Such a restriction is unjustified”

Restrictions of any sort not already in place at the time to Protocol started to have application can thus be ‘new restrictions’ even where they do not relate to a main applicant themselves.  The only time when restrictions are allowed to be introduced are where these are justified in the public interest as set out above. 

What does the standstill clause mean for applications by Turkish businesspersons in the UK?

The UK became bound by the ECAA and the ‘no new restrictions’ rule – the standstill clause – when it joined the European Economic Community (now the EU) in 1973.   This means that the Immigration Rules applicable at the time in 1973 must be applied to Turkish business people making applications to come or to remain in the UK.  

The rules for a Turkish businessperson visa are thus far less strict than the rules for non-Turkish business people who wish to move to the UK.

To apply for an ECAA Ankara Agreement Turkish Businessperson visa an Applicant needs to show that:

  • They have a genuine intention to set up a viable business;
  • They will be bringing sufficient funds to establish their business (though there is no minimum investment as there was with Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) of £50,000 or £200,000, or now is with the new Tier 1 (Innovator) category requiring investment of £50,000);
  • They will be able to afford their share of the costs of running the business;
  • Their share of the profits will be enough to support themselves and their family without them needing to have another job.

At present, the route is still open to Turkish business persons looking to move to the UK, and the ‘standstill clause’ means that there are few restrictions on freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services.

Considering applying for an ECAA Turkish Businessperson visa? Contact Our Ankara Agreement Immigration Lawyers

For expert Turkish Businessperson visa guidance, advice on the rights of Turkish Businesspersons or regarding a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish worker visa application, appeal or judicial review, contact our specialist ECAA immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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