MEPs demand details of the EU-Turkey deal and compliance with international law
Strasbourg, 09-03-2016 – MEPs demanded details on Wednesday of the deal struck by EU leaders with Turkey on the management of migrant and refugee flows, underlining that the international asylum rules must be respected. In a plenary debate with the Council and the Commission, most political group leaders insisted that EU accession negotiations with Turkey and talks on visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals travelling to the EU should not be linked to the refugee issue.
The threats to press freedom in Turkey and the recent seizure of Zaman newspaper by the authorities, as well as Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish minorities, were raised during the discussion with Dutch minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, representing the Council, and Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. Preparations for the next European Council summit, on 17-18 March, were also addressed. MEPs discussed fiscal policy and “European Semester” economic policy coordination, which will be on the next summit agenda.
Visa exemption rule changes entail switching the country concerned from one annex to Regulation 539/01 to another (such changes are subject to co-decision by Parliament and the Council).
The one billion euros from the EU budget that the Commission promised for the Turkey refugee facility, as well as any potential additional funds coming from the EU, will also have to be negotiated and approved by Parliament under the budgetary procedure.
Live replays of the debate
Brussels, 9 March 2016 – An agreement in principle was found with Prime Minister Davutoğlu that Turkey will readmit quickly all irregular migrants who do not qualify for international protection, and who arrive in Greece. Turkey will thus anticipate the entry into force of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement.
It was also agreed that Turkey will readmit Syrian nationals returned from the Greek islands under the logic that they can apply for asylum in Turkey and under the understanding that for every Syrian readmitted, one will be resettled to the EU directly from Turkey.
As President Juncker has said, this is a “game-changer”. The new plan will help us to break the business model of smugglers who exploit human misery. There will no longer be an incentive for Syrians to pay criminals to smuggle them across the Aegean.
It will make clear that the only viable way to come to Europe is through legal channels.
Meanwhile, to ensure that Syrian refugees can benefit from decent conditions in Turkey, the newly created Facility for Refugees in Turkey is already starting to finance the first projects. The initial EUR 3 billion put into the Fund could also need to be supplemented after 2018.
Regarding the proposal to liberalise the EU’s visa regime with Turkey, let me underline what President Juncker has said. The Commission will ensure that Turkey fully respects its commitments, and upholds the standards we have agreed. The same principle applies to the opening of new chapters in Turkey’s accession negotiations.
Details of Monday’s deal would need to be worked out on time for the next European Council in 17-18 March.
European Union leaders also welcomed the Commission’s new Roadmap which will restore Schengen to its proper functioning by the end of this year. This means strengthening our external borders, putting an end to the so-called ‘wave-through’ approach, and coordinating all temporary border controls at European level.
As EU leaders recognised on Monday, this Roadmap requires more support for our frontline Member States, starting with Greece.
Last week, the Commission adopted proposals for a new Emergency Assistance instrument, whose first priority will be to relieve the situation in Greece. EU leaders called on the Council to adopt the new scheme before next week’s March European Council. The Parliament, as an arm of the budgetary authority, will play a central role in filling this proposal with life. That is why the Commission will urgently propose an amending budget for 2016 to create the budget line for the instrument. The estimated needs for 2016 are EUR 300 million with a further EUR 200 million each for use in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Funding would therefore not be diverted from existing external humanitarian aid programmes outside the EU. [Vice-President Dombrovskis – Full Speech]
EU-Turkey agreement, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt voiced strong criticism
We need practical arrangements with Turkey, but with this deal we try to outsource our problems. We give the entrance keys to the gates of Europe to the successors of the Ottoman Empire: to Erdogan, Sultan Erdogan
Europeans will block all refugees who are looking for protection and it will be Turkey and Erdogan who will decide on an individual basis who is a political refugee and who is not, who can enter in Europe and who not.”
I find this hugely problematic. This is a type of collective ‘refoulement’ forbidden by the Convention of Geneva.”
Turkey has not fully adhered to the Geneva Convention and is rapidly falling into autocracy
This agreement will dramatically reduce the legal entry points into the Union, forcing desperate refugees to look for other routes. We will see again the revival of the Lampedusa route. A new Malta route. A new Albanian route. A new Bulgarian route
Verhofstadt urged the Council to roll out a European strategy based on three pillars:
1. A Common border and coast guard – to manage our borders: To register the arrival of the refugees, to make the distinction between real refugees and economic migrants and to manage the reception centres.
2. Use the 3 billion directly in the camps in Turkey. Not to give this to Turkish authorities or to international organizations but directly to the refugees who have to live today with 7 dollars
3. An EU asylum and migration policy, including a relocation mechanism: “What we do with this deal is not changing or abolishing the Dublin regulation but it puts Turkey inside Dublin.”
ALDE Vice President Sophie in ‘t Veld
The EU-Turkey deal is not a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness of the European Union. This deal is morally reprehensible. the fruit of short-term thinking, not a solution for the long term. Apparently the national leaders prefer a dubious deal with an authoritarian leader, rather than to show courage, vision and to take responsibility for a fully-fledged and sustainable European asylum policy
Stop trading in human rights, show some solidarity with refugees
During the debate this morning in the European Parliament, Zimmer responded to the European Council’s deal with Turkey: “We must understand this clearly. The European Union is dealing with human beings and their fundamental rights. These are not for trade. No-one – including the European Union – is allowed to trade in human beings and fundamental rights.”
“Categorising people by nationality and trading in refugees and migrants clearly violates international human rights agreements.”
“Some heads of state and government claim that this deal with Turkey is a European solution, but we’ve never been further away from a European solution!”
“On Monday at the EU-Turkey summit, the heads of state and government were simply looking at solutions based on their own interests as countries.”
Responding also to the European Commission’s plans for the new emergency assistance instrument for Greece, Zimmer remarked: “It is positive to see support for Greece, but nothing is actually changing regarding the burden that Greece is currently bearing and the total lack of solidarity from other member states.”
“Instead, what we need is a European and a global solution for refugees.”
“Anyone who shakes the hand of this Turkish Government is completely giving up on the values of human rights and solidarity. The current Turkish Government kills its own citizens. By bombing Kurds in Syria and supporting Islamist fighters, Turkey has contributed to creating the refugee crisis.”
“We cannot accept that the EU closes its eyes to these abuses and accepts this dirty deal with Turkey,” Zimmer concluded.
A Vote to Remain is a Vote for Turkey
Today in the European Parliament UKIP leader Nigel Farage MEP accused the EU of being blackmailed by Turkey over the migrant crisis and asserted that the safest option for the British people is to vote leave before Turkey can join the European Union. He was debating the upcoming European Council meeting on March 17th.
Nigel Farage said: “The historic error made by Chancellor Merkel last year by saying all can come has led directly to this mess and now we are being blackmailed by Turkey. I wish that David Cameron was as good at negotiations as the Turks are.”
“So we are going to go into political union with a country that has got borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria, a country that is poorer than anybody else in the European Union and give free movement to 75 million people. And join up with a government that is increasingly islamist and authoritarian.”
“Well this referendum in Britain is all about what is the safest option. It is pretty clear to me that a vote to remain is a vote for Turkey, a vote to remain is a vote for massively increased immigration into Britain and a vote to remain is a vote that makes Britain more vulnerable to terrorism. It is safer to vote to leave and take back control of our borders.”
The historic error made by Chancellor Merkel last year by saying all can come has led directly to this mess and now we are being blackmailed by Turkey. First they came for three billion, in a promise to reduce the numbers coming into Greece and the rest of Europe but when the numbers increased many fold they came back for another three billion and they will come on coming back for more and more and more. As the British poet Rudyard Kipling observed of the Danish incursions into England, ‘and that is called paying the Dane game and we’ve proved it again and again that if once you have paid in the Dane geld you will never get rid of the Dane.”
Now you have us over a barrel, this new deal where for every one illegal migrant we send back, if our human rights laws allow it, they’ll send us another one from Syria. So the argument is we’ve paid them a fortune not to reduce numbers and yet we’ve given in and said visa free access for 75 million Turks from June of this year.
In theory they can stay for 90 days, in practice many will disappear or of course claim family reunion, the numbers will go sharply, sharply up. And in return for all of this we are now going to fast track Turkey as a full member of the European Union. My goodness me, I wish that David Cameron was as good at negotiations as the Turks are.
So we are going to go into political union with a country that has got borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria. We are going to going to go into political union with a country that is poorer than anybody else in the European Union and give free movement to 75 million people. And join up with a government that is increasingly Islamist and authoritarian.
The Turkish Prime Minister said that this week ‘Turkish membership will be a turning point’. Too right. The British Prime Minister has long supported Turkey being a member of this union, in fact he has fought hard over ten years for them to join. He doesn’t bat an eyelid at the extra 500 million pounds we will stump up to help fund this crisis. Well this referendum in Britain is all about what is the safest option and given that the boss of Europol says already that there are 3-5000 islamist terrorists that have come into Europe using the migrant routes it is pretty clear to me that a vote to remain is a vote for Turkey, a vote to remain is a vote for massively increased immigration into Britain and a vote to remain is a vote that makes Britain more vulnerable to terrorism. It is safer to vote to leave and take back control of our borders.
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Filed under: A K P, Başbakanlık_Prime Minister, European Union/Avrupa Birliği, Immigration, Suriye/Syria/Syrie, Temel Hak ve Özgürlükler/Fundamental Rights, Turkey, İç ve Dış Siyaset - Political Affairs