EU unlocks new 3 billion euro tranche in Turkey migrant deal
BRUSSELS – Agence France Presse
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.
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.