EU-Turkey Agreement to tackle the refugee crisis

The EU and Turkey have found an agreement in order to end irregular migration from Turkey to the EU.

Logo of the Council of the EU

On 18 March, following on from the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan activated on 29 November 2015 and the 7 March EU-Turkey statement, the European Union and Turkey decided to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU.

The agreement targets the people smugglers' business model and removes the incentive to seek irregular routes to the EU, in full accordance with EU and international law.

The EU and Turkey agreed that:

  1. All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey;
  2. For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU. The maximum amount of resettlement has been set at 72.000. Depending on the situation, this mechanism could be reviewed ;
  3. Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for irregular migration opening from Turkey to the EU;
  4. Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or have been substantially reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated. Humanitarian admission is an alternative and faster approach to resettlement, by which countries admit displaced persons, based on a limited set of criteria, from third countries to provide them with protection;
  5. The fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016. Turkey will take all the necessary steps to fulfil the remaining requirements;
  6. The EU will, in close cooperation with Turkey, further speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated €3 billion under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Once these resources are about to be used in full, the EU will mobilise additional funding for the Facility up to an additional €3 billion to the end of 2018;
  7. The EU and Turkey welcomed the ongoing work on the upgrading of the Customs Union in order to enhance their bilateral trade relations;
  8. The accession process will be re-energised, with Chapter 33 to be opened during the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union and preparatory work on the opening of other chapters to continue at an accelerated pace;
  9. The EU and Turkey will work to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria.

For more information, please visit the European Council and Council of the European Union website or the European Commission website.