The EU-Turkey Agreement: What You Need to Know
The European Union and Turkey reached an agreement on March 18, 2016, to address the migrant crisis that had been affecting the continent for years. The EU-Turkey Agreement aimed to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece and to provide a safe pathway for Syrian refugees to enter Europe.
Under the agreement, Turkey agreed to take back all migrants who cross into Greece illegally, including asylum-seekers. In exchange, the EU promised to resettle one Syrian refugee in Europe for every migrant returned to Turkey, up to a maximum of 72,000 people. The EU also pledged to provide financial aid to Turkey to help with the care of refugees.
The agreement was controversial from the start, with critics raising concerns about the legality of returning asylum-seekers to a country that is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. Human rights organizations also objected to the conditions faced by refugees in Turkey, where they often lack access to basic services like healthcare and education.
Despite these criticisms, the EU-Turkey Agreement did succeed in reducing the number of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea. The number of arrivals decreased from a peak of nearly 7,000 people per day in October 2015 to just a few dozen per day in early 2018. However, the agreement also resulted in a backlog of asylum applications in Greece, where refugees were left stranded in overcrowded camps with uncertain futures.
The EU-Turkey Agreement has been extended several times since its initial implementation, most recently in March 2020. However, its future remains uncertain as Turkey continues to use the threat of releasing migrants into Europe as leverage in its diplomatic disputes with the EU.
In conclusion, the EU-Turkey Agreement was a significant attempt by the EU and Turkey to address the migrant crisis in a coordinated way. While it did succeed in reducing the number of crossings, it also raised concerns about the treatment of refugees and the legality of returning them to Turkey. Its long-term success remains uncertain, as the underlying causes of the crisis continue to persist.