EU Leaders to Present Their Common Position on Migrant Deal to Turkey

EU | March 18, 2016, Friday // 09:03|  views

European Parliament President Martin Schulz (L) and German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) during the first day of a two-day European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, 17 March 2016. Photo: EPA

The heads of state or government of the member states of the EU agreed on a joint position which will be presented to Turkey in attempt to reach a deal on stemming the migrant influx into Europe.

The EU leaders agreed the common position at the meeting of the European Council in Brussels, which began on Thursday and is continuing on Friday.

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said that the common EU position would be presented to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday.

At a meeting with Davutoglu last week, EU leaders agreed in principle to step up cooperation with Turkey in stemming the migrant flow from Turkey into Europe, with the deal to be finalised at this week's European Council.

Apart from the implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan, the EU leaders also agreed on the full application of the Schengen Borders Code, closure of the Western Balkan migrant route and reinforcement of humanitarian assistance to Greece.

The so-called “one-in, one-out” deal, which was agreed in principle last week, foresees the return of all migrants traveling to Greece from Turkey. For each Syrian returned to Turkey, another Syrian already in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.

In exchange for accepting the deal, the EU has proposed to double the financial aid it had previously promised to Turkey from EUR 3 B to EUR 6 B, accelerate the negotiations for Ankara's accession to the EU and provide Turkish citizens with vise-free access to countries from the Schengen Area.

After the first day of the European Council on Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that Turkey should meet international standards of protection for all migrants.

Merkel added that the legal resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU proposed by the deal could start several days after the first migrants are returned from Greece.

She said that the EU should have readiness to return migrants from Greece to Turkey rapidly in order to avoid a “pull factor” which could create a surge of migrants before the new system starts functioning.

Davutoglu has said that he will not accept Turkey becoming an “open prison” for migrants, while Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has hinted that he might veto the resettlement deal.

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Tags: EU, turkey, migrant influx, European Council, Angela Merkel, Viktor Orban, Ahmet Davutoglu, greece, migrants, Schengen Area


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