EU unlocks new 3 billion euro tranche in Turkey migrant deal
BRUSSELS – Agence France Presse
The EU on March 14 unlocked a further 3 billion euros for refugees in Turkey, the second tranche of a 2016 deal to curb the flow of migrants coming to Europe.
“The Commission is today launching the mobilization for the second 3 billion euro tranche of the facility for refugees in Turkey,” said the European Commission, the EU executive.
EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the Commission had fully contracted the first 3 billion euros under the deal sealed two years ago at the height of Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
“Now the union and its member states need to fund the second tranche,” Avramopolous told a press conference in Brussels.
“It makes sense we follow the same division as before, with the EU budget mobilizing 1 billion euros and the member states delivering the other 2 billion euros,” he said.
Under the deal, all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands must be returned to Turkey. These include both refugees fleeing conflict and persecution as well as economic migrants.
In addition to providing billions in funds in return, the EU agreed other concessions to Turkey such as to accelerate plans to bring in visa-free travel for its nationals and boost negotiations for its membership of the bloc.
But these have stalled due to Brussels charges on Ankara over rights violation claims in the wake of a coup attempt in July 2016.
Humanitarian groups slammed the deal for deterring people fleeing war-torn countries like Syria, who under international law must be granted asylum.