Politics, Europe

EU leaders to review 2016 deal with Turkey on migrants

Visa liberalization, customs union update among issues in 2016 migrant deal Turkey says EU failed to keep its promises on

Agnes Szucs   | 23.03.2020
EU leaders to review 2016 deal with Turkey on migrants


A new EU report on the 2016 deal with Turkey on migrants is due out this Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told an online press conference after a videoconference with European foreign ministers on Monday.

The diplomatic service document will analyze the prospects of future EU-Turkey ties based on the March 2016 agreement, including the topics of visa liberalization and the customs union, issues Turkey says the EU failed to keep its promises on.

European heads of states and governments will possibly discuss the findings at their videoconference on Thursday.

Borrell was tasked to hold talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosuglu to find ways to better implement the 2016 deal.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started negotiations with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during his visit to Brussels two weeks ago.

The 2016 deal was reached to stop irregular refugee flows and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The EU had pledged €6 billion ($6.5 billion) aid for the refugees, but so far transferred less than half of that, according to Turkey.

According to Ankara, the EU also backed away from political commitments as part of the deal, including visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe, opening new chapters in the accession process, and negotiations on upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union.

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of refugees tried to cross the Greek border after Turkish authorities announced they would no longer try to block irregular migrants from reaching Europe.

The decision came after 34 Turkish soldiers lost their lives in a Syrian regime attack in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The renewed attacks risked another wave of migration to Turkey, which already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot take in any more.

In his latest speech, Borrell said the situation at the Turkish-Greek border had improved.

“We have to continue the agreement” of 2016, he said, arguing that it is in the “mutual interest” of both parties.

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