Statement of the EU Heads of State or Government
EU News 80/2016
Following their meeting with Prime Minister Davutoğlu, the EU Heads of State or Government addressed the migration situation, in particular as regards the Western Balkans route. They welcomed their discussion with the Turkish Prime Minister on EU-Turkey relations and on the progress made in the implementation of the Joint Action Plan. Turkey confirmed its commitment in implementing the bilateral Greek-Turkish readmission agreement to accept the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back all irregular migrants apprehended on Turkish waters.
The Heads of State or Government agreed that bold moves were needed to close down people smuggling routes, to break the business model of the smugglers, to protect our external borders and to end the migration crisis in Europe. We need to break the link between getting in a boat and getting settlement in Europe.
That is why they underlined the importance of the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea that became operational today. They called on all members of NATO to support it actively. They warmly welcomed the additional proposals made today by Turkey to address the migration issue. They agreed to work on the basis of the principles they contain:
- to return all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands with the costs covered by the EU;
- to resettle, for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian from Turkey to the EU Member States, within the framework of the existing commitments;
- to accelerate the implementation of the visa liberalization roadmap with all Member States with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016;
- to speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated 3 billion euros to ensure funding of a first set of projects before the end of March and decide on additional funding for the Refugee Facility for Syrians;
- to prepare for the decision on the opening of new chapters in the accession negotiations as soon as possible, building on the October 2015 European Council conclusions;
- to work with Turkey in any joint endeavour to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe.
The President of the European Council will take forward these proposals and work out the details with the Turkish side before the March European Council. This work will respect European and international law.
The EU Heads of State or Government also discussed with the Turkish Prime Minister the situation of the media in Turkey.
Source and additional information:
Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Ahmet Davutoglu Date: 07/03/2016 Reference: P-031155/00-23 © European Union, 2016 URL