«There is a good chance that the agreement and other elements, which are part of a complex puzzle involving efforts at European, national and international level, will help to substantially reduce the number of people arriving in Europe. However, this will neither settle the crisis nor will it provide an adequate response to all those in need of international protection».
This is the main point expressed by Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Director of Studies at the European Policy Centre (EPC) speaking at a familiar turf, the conference room of the EPC in a post summit briefing.
After intense negotiations at the European Council concluded on Friday and a post summit debate marked with commentaries voicing out concerns on the deal’s legality and the mass deportation menace, Emmanouilidis shared his cool-headed assessments on the Eu-Turkey deal. «The basic objective of the deal» he said «is to undermine the ‘business model’ of smugglers and human traffickers and to reduce the incentives for migrants/refugees to try and enter the EU through ‘irregular routes’ of migration».
Indeed, as explained by the European Commission, the UE- Turkey agreement targets the people smugglers' business model and removes the incentive to seek irregular routes to the EU.
In order to accomplish this plan, all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey; For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU; Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for irregular migration opening from Turkey to the EU; Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or have been substantially reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated. To learn more, read this EU-Turkey Agreement Q&A fact sheet put out by the European Commission.
«Despite all the criticism voiced against the deal» he added «the EU-Turkey agreement is a necessary and indispensable step. However, it will not be sufficient to cope effectively with the political and humanitarian consequences, let alone the fundamental reasons behind the crisis. Much more still remains to be done before the agreement has the chance to enter the history books as a stepping stone in the right direction – although failure cannot be excluded».
Emmanouilidis pointed out the summit scored to main victories. «First, the mere fact that the EU-28 were able to (consensually) agree on the elements of a deal with Turkey is already per se good news. It indicates that member states are able to pursue a common European approach despite all their differences and increasing level of distrust. The fact the Eu member states were able to agree, was not a given. Second, the fact that the EU and its members did not surrender some of the Union’s basic principles and legal obligations and that the Union was able to strike a deal with Turkey without accepting all of Ankara’s demands is a better outcome than many had expected».
Cover photo:Getty/ THIERRY CHARLIER