Thursday

9th Feb 2023

'Coalition of willing' announces EU-Turkey summit

  • Turkish prime minister Davutoglu. The summit will take stock of the implementation of the EU-Turkey action plan. (Photo: Consillium)

A new EU-Turkey summit will take place in February, it emerged after a mini-summit in Brussels Thursday (17 December) involving some EU leaders and the Turkish prime minister.

All 28 member states will be invited to the meeting, which is to take place just before the regular EU summit on 18-19 February, but it is not clear whether all will participate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The aim will be to take stock of the implementation of the EU-Turkey action plan" agreed in November, seeking to reduce the number of migrants to Europe, an EU source told EUobserver.

"The existing agreements will be reviewed," the source noted, mentioning the destruction of migrant smuggler networks in Turkey and resettlement of refugees from Turkey to Europe.

The Netherlands, which will hold the EU rotating presidency from 1 January, said it would invite all member states.

85,000 migrants stopped

The announcement came after a mini-summit organised Thursday morning at the Austrian representation to the EU by the so-called "coalition of the willing" ahead of the full EU summit

The expression refers to the group of countries willing to follow an EU commission recommendation to resettle refugees from Turkey.

Netherlands will also set up a working group to examine how the recommendation can be implemented by by those countries which are willing.

Leaders of Austria, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, and Slovenia took part in the meeting, along with the presidents of the European Commission and Parliament. France was represented by its EU affairs minister.

Resettlement was discussed, but the focus was on what Turkey is doing to implement the action plan.

According to a source with knowledge of the talks, Turkish PM Ahmed Davutoglu said that during the last quarter Turkey stopped 85,000 migrants on roads leading to the Turkish coast, where they embark for Greece.

Davutoglu said that 1,700 smugglers were arrested and that a law would be passed in the coming weeks to allow Syrians living in Turkey to work.

According to German press agency DPA, Davutoglu also informed EU leaders that Turkey will introduce visas for Syrians from 8 January, to slow the numbers of refugees coming to Turkey.

Participants decided that another meeting would be necessary to follow up on the situation and assess progress made by Turkey.

"We should not expect to reduce the flow to zero" in a few weeks, the source noted.

The expectation is that numbers should be reduced by next spring. EU countries would then be ready to consider resettling refugees by next summer.

"Resettlement will only work if the irregular flow has gone to zero," the first EU source said.

The "coalition of the willing" considers that resettling migrants is the best way of controlling arrivals of refugees. The prospect of resettlement is on the other hand considered as an incentive for Turkey to implement the action plan.

Participating countries differ on how they weigh the two sides of the issue. "Some countries like Germany are ready to do more in resettling refugees. It is not the case of Belgium," Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said after the meeting.

Divisions

Thursday's mini-summit followed a first meeting of eight countries on the margins of the EU-Turkey summit in November.

Although the number of participants has increased to 11, the convening of a new EU-Turkey summit is likely to highlight divisions not only between EU member states but also between EU institutions.

Who organises the summit could prove controversial.

The Netherlands said it will launch the invitation as chair of the rotating EU presidency. But a full-fledged summit is normally organised by European Council president Donald Tusk, who was neither present nor represented at Thursday's mini-event.

Who participates could be problematic.

Some countries refuse to resettle refugees and might not participate in a summit that would discuss such plans. But the EU commission, which has been pushing for the plan, and some member states, led by Germany, are willing to move forward.

"If we can't do it at 28, we'll do it with those who want," a source said.

This article was updated at 21.16 Thursday 17 December to add more details

Austria calls mini-EU summit with Turkish PM

Merkel, Juncker, Turkish PM, and eight EU leaders to hold mini-summit in Austrian embassy Thursday morning. "Friends of resettlement" group causing confusion in EU circles.

Video

Rivera joins Liberals for EU pre-summit meeting

Before any EU summit in Brussels, political families come together to prepare talks. This time round Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos, Spain, joined the Liberals.

Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals

A joint letter from Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia seeks to create more Turkey-like migrant swap deals. But a pending Greek case at the European Court of Justice may complicate those plans.

Opinion

Racist algorithms and AI can't determine EU migration policy

Artificial Intelligence in migration is increasingly used to make predictions, assessments, and evaluations based on racist assumptions it is programmed with. But with upcoming AI Act, the EU has a chance to draw red lines on the most harmful technologies.

Latest News

  1. MEPs agree to fossil loophole in EU green building directive
  2. Racist algorithms and AI can't determine EU migration policy
  3. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  4. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  5. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  6. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  7. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  8. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us