Groningen – ESI lecture on the “The EU-Turkey Deal”

10 August 2020
The EU-Turkey Deal. Video: SIB-Groningen

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to give an online lecture at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands on “The EU-Turkey Deal”.

In March 2016, the European Union and the Turkish Government agreed on a mechanism aimed to cope with the large number of irregular migrants coming into the EU. In exchange for Turkey readmitting migrants who were found to be not in need of international protection, the EU would accelerate the visa liberalisation process with Turkey, provide financial support for refugees in Turkey, modernise the Turkey-EU customs union and re-energise negotiations over Turkey’s accession to the EU. Since its announcement, the EU-Turkey Statement has significantly reduced irregular migration from Turkey into Greece. Out of the €6 billion pledged, €4.7 billion have already been contracted and €3.4 billion disbursed for concrete support projects for Syrian refugees. Nevertheless, not only abysmal conditions in refugee camps on the Greek islands but also Turkey loosening border controls at the Greek-Turkish land border in February 2020, have put the Statement under pressure.

Four years on, the question on how to achieve a cohesive and comprehensive migration policy involving the EU and its neighbours remains unsolved. How can EU member states cooperate more effectively? Is it time for a new EU-Turkey Statement or does collaboration need to happen in an entirely different way? How can a solution be found that respects national sovereignty, but does not compromise the safety and well-being of migrants?