EU, Turkey Leaders Agree on Migrant Crisis Deal

World » EU | March 18, 2016, Friday // 18:08
Bulgaria: EU, Turkey Leaders Agree on Migrant Crisis Deal Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and French President Francois Hollande (R) walk together to their meeting on the sidelines of a two-days European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 18, 2016.

The European Council has said an agreement was reached between all 28 countries of the bloc and Turkey on a deal that is expected to ease pressure that hundreds of thousands of migrants have been applying on Europe over the past year.

A press conference on the finalized deal is due at 15:20 GMT, according to Preben Aamann, EU Council President Donal Tusk's spokesperson. 

A European Council meeting is taking place on Thursday and Friday, with EU leaders having smoothed out differences before meeting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the second day.

Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipil? was the first EU leader to make the announcement on Twitter, saying the agreement had been reached. An official confirmation has yet to be made by other member states.

It was not immediately clear whether objections by several member states, such as Bulgaria and Cyprus, had been dropped. Bulgaria in particular demands that a deal include stepped up measures at its borders with Turkey, and not only between Turkey and Greece as initially planned.

At a meeting with Davutoglu last week, EU leaders agreed in principle to step up cooperation with Turkey in stemming the migrant flow from Turkey into Europe, with the deal to be finalized at this week's European Council.

Apart from the implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan, the EU leaders also agreed on the full application of the Schengen Borders Code, closure of the Western Balkan migrant route and reinforcement of humanitarian assistance to Greece.

The so-called “one-in, one-out” deal foresees the return of all migrants traveling to Greece from Turkey, the rule entering into force on Sunday (March 20) midnight. For each Syrian returned to Turkey, another Syrian already in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.

In exchange for accepting the deal, the EU has proposed to double the financial aid it had previously promised to Turkey from EUR 3 B to EUR 6 B, accelerate the negotiations for Ankara's accession to the EU and provide Turkish citizens with vise-free access to countries from the Schengen Area.

The process of both sending back those who reached Turkey and relocation of Syrian refugees from Turkish camps is to begin over the weekend.

EU leaders say the deal will be implemented in accordance with international law.

Ankara is now expected to submit a budget proposal to inform Brussels about how it intends to spend the money.

A new chapter of Turkey's accession talks with the EU, No. 33 (Budgetary and Financial Affairs), by June.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Ahmet Davutoglu, EU, turkey, migrants, deal, greece, Bulgaria, migrant crisis, Juha Sipila
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