European Commission reports on implementation of EU-Turkey Statement
The Commission finds that good progress has been made to implement the EU-Turkey Statement.
The Commission has reported today on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Agreement – in which the EU and Turkey agreed to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU and replace it instead with legal channels of resettlement of refugees to the EU - and finds that good progress has been made to operationalise the Statement. Continued efforts and commitments are needed to consolidate this position and carry out sustained return and resettlement operations.
This new approach regarding the management of the refugee crisis has started to deliver results with a sharp decrease seen in the number of people irregularly crossing the Aegean from Turkey into Greece. In fact, according to the European Commission First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, “the first result of our cooperation with Turkey is that the message is starting to get through that turning to smugglers is the wrong choice to make". However "(...) this sharp decrease in irregular arrivals now needs to go hand-in-hand with opening up the legal channel of resettlement to those in need of protection.”
The operationalisation of the Statement in concrete terms:
- Already 325 irregular migrants have been returned to Turkey since 4 April.
- Legal changes have been undertaken by both Greece and Turkey to ensure full respect of EU and international law. Also, Greece has set up accelerated procedures for the processing of all stages of asylum applications on the islands, from the initial interviews to the appeal.
- Officers have been deployed: Frontex has deployed liaison officers and readmission experts to the Greek islands to support the return operations. Turkish liaison officers have been deployed in the Greek hotspots and Greek liaison officers to arrival points in Turkey.
- First resettlements from Turkey to the EU took place on 4-5 April with so far 103 Syrian refugees resettled to the EU under the 1:1 scheme.
- The Commission will present its third visa liberalisation progress report for Turkey on 4 May and, if Turkey takes the necessary measures to fulfil the remaining benchmarks, it will be accompanied by a legislative proposal for transferring Turkey to the visa-free list.
- Most Member States have now sent in their contribution certificates under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey- a joint coordination mechanism between the EU and the Member States to address the needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey. On the other hand, further efforts are required by Turkey to make sure that those who need international protection receive the kind of support they most require including through the Facility.
For more information, including the full press release and the first report on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, please visit the European Commission’s website.