Thursday 8 December 2016

EU and Turkey set to sign multi-billion euro migration deal

EU set to pledge €3bn to upgrade Turkish refugee camps - in a bid to discourage people from fleeing to Europe

Sarah Collins in Brussels

Published 29/11/2015 | 18:59

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, center, speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann prior to a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit at the EU Council building in Brussels on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Walscaerts)
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, center, speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann prior to a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit at the EU Council building in Brussels on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Walscaerts)
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for a summit on relations between the European Union and Turkey and on the migration crisis at the EU headquarters in Brussels on November 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNANDEMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) talks with French President Francois Hollande before a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit, in which the EU seeks Turkish help to slow the influx of migrants into southeastern Europe, in Brussels, Belgium November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu take part in a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit, in which the EU seeks Turkish help to slow the influx of migrants into southeastern Europe, in Brussels, Belgium November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny arrives at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, Belgium, November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

EU leaders are poised to hand Turkey billions in aid and make concessions on visas and EU membership to secure the country’s help in stemming the flow of refugees to Europe.

  • Go To

At a snap summit with Turkey in Brussels tonight, they were set to pledge €3 billion to upgrade Turkish refugee camps, in a bid to discourage people from fleeing to Europe.

It was not clear now much Ireland and other EU countries would be asked to commit, with a draft leaders’ statement saying that “the need for and nature of this funding will be reviewed in the light of the developing situation”.

The deal would lift visa requirements for Turkish citizens entering the 25-country Schengen zone - which doesn’t include Ireland - by October 2016, and restart stalled membership talks by next spring.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the trade-off would mean Turkey doing more to improve the lives of refugees in the country.

“Turkey will undertake to enhance the facilities and the presentation of proper camps and all that goes along with that in Turkey, in an effort to confine the numbers moving from Turkey,” he said.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu take part in a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit, in which the EU seeks Turkish help to slow the influx of migrants into southeastern Europe, in Brussels, Belgium November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu take part in a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit, in which the EU seeks Turkish help to slow the influx of migrants into southeastern Europe, in Brussels, Belgium November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The EU agreed in the autumn to resettle 160,000 people in need of international protection, with Ireland agreeing to take in 4000.

But the flow of refugees, especially from Syria and Iraq, has not stopped, with 1.5 million people entering the EU illegally in 2015 alone, and most of them through Turkey.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) talks with French President Francois Hollande before a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit, in which the EU seeks Turkish help to slow the influx of migrants into southeastern Europe, in Brussels, Belgium November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) talks with French President Francois Hollande before a group photo at an EU-Turkey summit, in which the EU seeks Turkish help to slow the influx of migrants into southeastern Europe, in Brussels, Belgium November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Turkey now hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, including around 2.2 million Syrians fleeing a civil war that has been raging for more than four years.

The war has led to the proliferation of terrorist groups, including Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for for the attacks in Paris on 13 November.

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny arrives at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, Belgium, November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny arrives at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, Belgium, November 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

French President François Hollande said that aside from the refugee issue, it was necessary to have “cooperation with Turkey to fight against trafficking, to act against terrorism… and also to find a solution in Syria”.

“The tragic attacks in Paris demonstrated that our fight against terrorism has to enter a new phase,” said Donald Tusk, who chairs the summits of EU leaders. “This will be a common task for the EU and Turkey. Without a quick and lasting solution to the crisis in Syria, people will still be fleeing the war.”

Tensions have risen since Turkey shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian-Turkish border last week, an issue Mr Kenny said was “critical” but which was not a priority at the Brussels meeting.

“Clearly it’s an issue of enormous concern,” Mr Kenny said. “The impact of this meeting is to get a conclusion and an agreement in respect of the migration issue,” Mr Kenny said.

To combat terrorism, EU leaders were discussing more regular leaders’ and ministerial meetings with Turkey on foreign and security policy.

The three-hour meeting was organised at the last minute - at Turkey’s insistence - despite EU leaders needing to travel to Paris today [MON] for UN climate talks.

The Taoiseach said that at the UN talks he would sign up to “measurable and achievable” targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as long as they take account of Ireland’s heavy reliance on agriculture.

“Our profile is very much different than any other European country because of the scale and indeed the credibility and integrity of what our agri sector is now able to do,” the Taoiseach said.

“Our people at all levels will have to work very challengingly in the time ahead to get a set of targets that are achievable and that are fair and balanced and sustainable in Ireland’s case,” Mr Kenny said.

In October last year EU leaders agreed that agriculture and land use should be included in setting calculating national emission reduction targets, meaning Ireland should be able to offset high emissions from agricultural against climate-friendly forests and boglands.

National targets will be hammered out by officials between now and February, following the Paris summit.

Online Editors

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News