International Summit: Meeting of the EU heads of state or government with Turkey, Brussels, 7 March 2016

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details 07.03.16
Publication Date 07/03/2016
Content Type

At the European Council of 18-19 February 2016, leaders agreed to organise a special meeting with Turkey. The full and speedy implementation of the EU-Turkey action plan remained a priority, in order to stem migration flows and tackle networks of traffickers and smugglers.

On 24 February 2016 President Tusk announced that the meeting would take place on 7 March 2016 in Brussels.

In preparation for this meeting, President Tusk travelled to the main countries of the Western Balkans route between 1-4 March 2016. He also met Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara.

On 7 March 2016, EU heads of state or government held a meeting with Turkey to strengthen their cooperation on the migration and refugee crisis. European Council President Donald Tusk chaired the meeting, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu represented Turkey.

The meeting was followed by an informal meeting of the members of the European Council.

EU leaders discussed the implementation of the EU-Turkey joint action plan. Even if there was good progress to report on a number of actions, the number of illegal entries from Turkey to Greece remained far too high. EU leaders agreed with Prime Minister Davutoglu to strengthen their cooperation to achieve concrete results on the ground.

They welcomed Turkey's commitment to accept the rapid return of all migrants coming from Turkey to Greece that are not in need of international protection. They also look forward for the establishment of the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea with a view to stemming migrant crossings.

Some new breakthrough proposals to address the migration crisis were also discussed during the meeting. President Tusk was assigned with the task to work out their details before the next European Council.

Theses proposals include:

+ the return of all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands
+ the acceleration of the implementation of the visa liberalisation roadmap
+ the decision to speed up the disbursement of the €3bn and decide on additional funding for the refugee facility for Syrians
+ the preparation for the decision on the opening of new chapters in the accession negotiations
+ the consideration of the possibility of establishing humanitarian safe areas in Syria
+ the resettlement, for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, of another Syrian from Turkey to the EU

'The return mechanism mentioned above (...) should eventually break the business model of human smugglers,' said President Tusk.

EU leaders also discussed with PM Davutoğlu the situation of the media in Turkey and the importance of freedom of speech and expression.

Informal meeting of the European Council
After their lunch with Prime Minister Davutoğlu, EU leaders resumed their meeting at 28 and agreed to:

+ go back to the full application of the Schengen Borders Code in order to bring the irregular flow of migrants along the Western Balkan route to an end
+ reinforce the humanitarian assistance to refugees in Greece
+ support Greece in the management of its external borders

For previews, and critical analysis of the results, of the summit see the related url hyperlinks below. A number of commentators suggested that Turkey had blackmailed the EU to accept the deal they had put forward on the 7 March 2016 - in effect saying 'You need us more than we need you'. Politico wrote that the fact that the EU was likely to accept the deal was 'testament to the desperation of the Union and its largest member, Germany, to secure a deal to limit the flow of refugees and end a crisis that is testing EU solidarity like nothing in its history'.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was expected to return for another EU summit next week on 17-18 March 2016 to finalise the deal.

Source Link
Related Links
ESO: Information Guide: European Migration Challenges
ESO: Background Information: International Summit: Meeting of the EU heads of state or government with Turkey, Brussels, 29 November 2015
Euro|Topics: Debates, March 2016: What can the EU-Turkey summit achieve?
ESO: Background information: Merkel's Humane Refugee Policies Have Failed / Merkel defends her refugee policy / Merkel's approval ratings improve / For Merkel, No Turning Back
ESO: Background Information: Press Release: President Donald Tusk visits the main countries of the Western Balkans route
ESO: Background Information: Nato’s new migrant mission in the Aegean is a victory for Turkey and proof of Europe’s strategic irrelevance
ESO: Background information: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal Needs a Reset
EurActiv, 04.03.16: Don’t expect big decisions from EU-Turkey summit, say diplomats
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 03.03.16: Will Turkey and the EU See the Bigger Picture?
ESO: Background information: European Council Conclusions on migration (18 February 2016)
European Commission: DG Communication: RAPID: SPEECH/16/590, 04.03.16: Remarks of Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference on 4 March 2016 Ahead of the Meeting of EU Heads of State or Government on 7 March 2016
ESO: Background information: Turkish police raid Zaman HQs, fire tear gas on readers after gov’t takeover
Deutsche Welle, 06.03.16: Showdown in Brussels: EU-Turkey summit
Politico, 06.03.16: What’s behind EU-Turkey alliance of convenience
EurActiv, 07.03.16: EU summit set to close the Balkan route to migrants
EUObserver, 07.03.16: EU leaders to declare Balkan migrant route closed
EUObserver, 07.03.16: EU leaders to press Turkey on migrant returns
Politico, 06.03.16: Balkan route closed, EU to declare
Politico, 07.03.16: Turkey raises the stakes on refugee deal
EUObserver, 08.03.16: EU to send smuggled Syrians back to Turkey
EUObserver, 08.03.16: [Analysis]: Merkel scores victory on EU migrant plan, if implemented
EurActiv, 08.03.16: Merkel-Davutoglu wheeling-dealing wrecks EU summit
Politico, 08.03.16: How Turkey held the EU for ransom
BBC News, 08.03.16: Migrant crisis: EU and Turkey close in on agreement
Deutsche Welle, 08.03.16: EU leaders reach outline of deal with Turkey to resolve migration crisis
The Guardian, 08.03.16: Syria refugee crisis: Turkey and EU agree outline of 'one in, one out' deal
Kathimerini, 08.03.16: EU pushes for 'breakthrough' Turkey migrant deal next week
Blog: Open Europe, 08.03.16: Merkel’s ‘one-for-one’ proposals: the next battleground in the EU’s migrant crisis?
EP: EPRS: Briefing: Post-European Council Briefing, March 2016: Outcome of informal European Council of 7 March 2016 and the informal meeting of the EU Heads of State or Government with Turkey

Subject Categories ,
Countries / Regions , ,