|Author (Corporate)||European Council|
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 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
+ 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
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.
|Subject Categories||Justice and Home Affairs, Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Europe, Greece, Turkey|