EU-Turkey summit: A deal – but many questions remain

21 Mar 2016

Last Friday, the EU heads of state and government convened in Brussels for a summit with a delegation of the Turkish government to find a deal on an effective migration management at the Greek-Turkish border. The deal that was agreed on is a signal that the EU can act, but it is far from being positive throughout.

EU-Turkey summit: A deal – but many questions remain

Finally a deal! This was the bottom line expressed by EU leaders on the agreement found at the EU-Turkey summit with the Turkish delegation headed by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

A deal …

It was decided, most notably, that:
• all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey and that for every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU;
• Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for irregular migration opening from Turkey to the EU;
• the fulfilment of the Turkish visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016; and that
• the Turkish EU accession process will be re-energised.

… But many questions arise

As a first reaction, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger stated that “The EU-Turkey migration deal may be the best outcome of the negotiations, but whether it will bring the refugee smuggler’s business to an end and provide clear rules for legal entry into the EU remains very unclear. Many questions also remain with regard to the notion of safe third country, the ability to implement this agreement and the ambiguity that surrounds the resettlement procedure and burden sharing.”

“If Turkey is declared a safe third country and migrants are brought back to the country, Turkey must identify fully with the Geneva Convention. Moreover, the EU must ensure that Turkey honours core human rights and that migrants in the country will be effectively protected in accordance with international asylum standards.”

He concluded: “Another point to bring into the equation when safeguarding human rights is that the EU is in fact not as weak as it often believes it is. Recently, Turkey has become increasingly unpopular with Russia and more and more isolated in the Middle East region both politically and economically. The EU needs Turkey just as much as Turkey needs the EU. The EU should be aware of this when trying to push the Turkish government to respect core human rights and protect refugees adequately.”

Picture: © European Union, 2004-2016