EU: Migrant deal with Turkey producing results
REUTERS photoA Turkish-EU deal on migrants is yielding positive results, the European Commission said on Dec. 8, but no progress was made on the issue of visa-free travel for Turks even though the process has been unblocked for Ukrainians and Georgians.
“Our comprehensive European approach on migration is showing positive results,” European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.
“We can see this in the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the dramatic decrease in the number of irregular migrants arriving in Greece,” he added.
“The implementation of the EU-Turkey statement has confirmed the trend of a steady delivery of results, albeit in the face of many challenges,” the commission said.
“Numbers of irregular crossings of the Aegean during the reporting period remained dramatically lower than before the EU-Turkey statement,” the statement read.
“Since March, arrivals have averaged 90 per day, compared to 10,000 in a single day in October last year. However, important shortfalls remain, notably as regards the still too slow pace of returns from Greece to Turkey which has led to additional pressure on the Greek islands.”
However, there was no good news for Turkey on visa waiver for the Schengen zone.
“As regards the implementation of the Visa Liberalization Roadmap, seven benchmarks remain to be met by Turkey,” said the statement.
“The commission encourages Turkey’s efforts to complete the delivery of all outstanding benchmarks as soon as possible. The commission and Turkey have continued their dialogue to find solutions, including on the legislative and procedural changes needed to meet the outstanding benchmarks,” it said.
But there was good news for Ukraine and Georgia.
The EU will soon let Ukrainians and Georgians visit the bloc without needing a visa after diplomats and lawmakers struck a deal on Dec. 8 to end an internal EU dispute that had been holding up the promised measures.
The prospect of easier travel to Western Europe has been used by governments in Kyiv and Tbilisi to win popular backing for painful, EU-sponsored reforms. But EU leaders got cold feet about opening doors to 45 million Ukrainians after the public backlash which followed last year’s refugee crisis in Europe.
“Europe is delivering,” the conservative leader in the EU legislature, Manfred Weber, tweeted after the deal, while Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed “encouraging news from Brussels.”