Friday

23rd Jul 2021

EU seeks another €3bn Turkey migrant deal

  • EU funds to be spent on refugee aid not Turkish state (Photo: European Parliament)

The EU should pay €3 billion more to keep refugees in Turkey despite concerns about the Turkish regime, the European Commission has said.

It should also put "pressure" on African and Asian states to take back their unwanted nationals from the EU, it added.

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

  • Erdogan crackdown casts shadow on EU relations (Photo: Flickr)

The €3 billion is to be funded with €1 billion from the EU budget and the rest from member states, as in the previous €3 billion tranche, which ended in 2017.

It is to be spent on housing, educating, and giving medical care to the three million refugees now in Turkey, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration commissioner, said announcing the proposal in Brussels on Wednesday (14 March).

He urged member states to back it despite Turkey's rift with the EU over president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's assault on human rights in his post-coup crackdown.

The previous package had led to a "clear and consistent" drop of irregular migrants from Turkey to Greece, he said.

"It is in the interest of Turkey and of the European Union to have this agreement and this agreement should continue to exist as before," he said, referring to a 2016 EU-Turkey deal on migrants.

"Recently, the political climate has become a bit more strained, we recognise that," Avramopoulos added.

Erdogan's crackdown since July 2016 has seen him jail German nationals and, recently, two Greek soldiers who, Athens said, had accidentally crossed the Greek-Turkish land border.

Avramopoulos, a Greek politician, called the soldier case an "unnecessary escalation" that risked being "blown out of proportion".

He urged Erdogan to free them, saying: "No logical person would say the security of a country was at risk because two soldiers had strayed across the border".

Avramopoulos spoke the same day that EU auditors said €9 billion of EU fundsfor the Turkish state, which is a candidate for accession, spent in recent years had had a "limited effect" in helping to create rule of law and democracy.

But the commissioner said future EU aid would be better spent because the commission would take more control over the pure strings from Erdogan's treasury officials.

Readmission pressure

The commission also proposed that non-EU states who refused to take back their nationals from Europe should in future find it harder to get EU entry visas.

"There will be stricter visas if certain countries do not cooperate on readmission of irregular migrants," Avramopoulos told press.

He spoke one day before going to Niamey in Africa to meet with interior and foreign ministers from Niger and neighbouring countries.

"We have to apply a bit more pressure," he said.

He issued a veiled threat on EU development aid, adding: "These countries need the EU. We know we're the main donors for the development of these countries".

The commission said it would create easier conditions for 'bona fide' travellers seeking EU visas.

But it also proposed to raise the cost of entry visas to the EU's passport-free Schengen zone by €20 to €80, a tall order in African countries, such as Niger, where a normal wage is about €300 a month.

EU states could spend the extra income on more consular officials with better IT systems, Avramapoulos said.

Dublin reform

Wednesday's announcement comes amid a tense atmosphere on migration.

Some member states, such as Hungary and Poland, have boycotted EU migrant-sharing schemes, prompting court cases, while others, such as Austria and Italy, have voted anti-immigrant populists into positions of power.

Avramopoulos said Italy would "continue to support all our efforts to create a new asylum system" despite the prospect that Matteo Salvini, from the far-right Lega party, could become Italy's next prime minister.

The EU migrant crisis hit Greece and Italy the hardest due to their geographical position and due to an EU regulation, called Dublin, which says that countries where people first enter the EU have to take care of their asylum application.

The Greek EU commissioner said the crisis, which saw over one million people enter the EU in 2015, meant that the Dublin law was out of date and ought to be changed by the end of the year.

"Italy is not alone in this crisis, which has not ended, and which will still be with us for many, many years to come," he said.

EU billions had 'limited' effect in Turkey, audit finds

The EU got "limited" effect for the €9bn it spent trying to modernise Turkey in recent years, auditors have said. Turkey has been "backsliding" on reforms since 2013 due to "lack of political will", the European Court of Auditors found.

EU-Turkey migrant deal redundant, rights chief says

Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner at the Council of Europe watchdog, said people would no longer cross into Greece from Turkey due to difficulties getting further - regardless of the EU migrant deal with Ankara.

Opinion

Moria refugee camp is no place for people

Two years on from the highly-controversial EU-Turkey deal, many thousands of refugees are still trapped on Greek islands. One of them offers an open invitation to EU leaders to see their inhospitable conditions at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos.

Analysis

Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties

Turkey has belittled the EU in a week of macho posturing, but strategic relations go deeper than the rhetoric.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Feature

The exploited Sikh labourers babysitting Italy's buffalos

The migrant workers are exploited (by landlords and dairy-businessmen) like slaves. They work up to 14-hours per day, every single day non-stop without any leave, for barely €400 per month. If they get injured, their bosses hide these incidents.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Libyan police lieutenant: 'Coast guard are smugglers'

The Libyan coast guard actively works with smugglers and are run by a militia, an ex-Libyan lieutenant police officer. The EU is buying the guard three new P150 high speed patrol boats.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us