segunda-feira, 30 de novembro de 2015
Europe bribes Turkey / By GUY VERHOFSTADT
Europe bribes Turkey
Throwing money at Ankara won’t resolve this refugee crisis.
By GUY VERHOFSTADT 12/1/15, 5:27 AM CET
The EU-Turkey summit was far from the European Union’s finest hour.
The conclusions of the summit on Sunday were weak and mark another worrying setback in Europe’s fight to tackle its refugee crisis. Rather than put in place the concrete European response necessary to deal with the challenges we face, EU countries had hoped that a new EU-Turkey agreement could be used to help stem the flow of refugees and economic migrants arriving in Greece.
The summit committed the EU to an “initial” sum of €3 billion, to support Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey. However, it is not clear what support Turkey will provide to the refugees thanks to this money, or whether it will finally open its job market and provide schools and education to hundreds of thousands of Syrian children.
In return for our money, Turkey has agreed, starting in June 2016, to take back those migrants who are not in need of international protection, and who came to the EU through Turkish territory. If the aim is to “stem the flow,” this is a deeply flawed approach, as the number of people streaming into the EU who are not in need of international protection is extremely low.
The vast majority of people arriving are Syrians who will not be taken back by Turkey. It is thus highly unlikely that the numbers coming will be reduced. Indeed, the prime minister of Turkey stated at the post-summit press conference that he could not guarantee any reduction in the number of refugees arriving in Greece. One might therefore question the underlying logic behind the whole exercise.
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It is, of course, also true that illegal migrants can only be returned to Turkey if they actually stay on Greek territory and don’t move onward. But the reality of our nonexistent or dysfunctional entry “hotspots” mean the vast majority of people who could be returned to Turkey — based on the valid Greek-Turkish readmission agreement — move on northward into other EU countries before any return can be administratively arranged.
It is time Europe takes its destiny into its own hands
Statistics from the Greek police show that while Turkey agreed to take back more than 2,300 illegal migrants this year, only eight people were returned, as the rest had left Greece. Once the illegal migrants cross the Western Balkans, they cannot be returned to Turkey as the EU-Turkey readmission agreement doesn’t apply there.
Our strategy to outsource our refugee crisis to Turkey lies in tatters. One wonders whether some of the money that will now be pledged to Turkey, in the hope of stemming the tide of refugees, could instead have been invested in the setting up of an EU border and coastguard force.
Any co-operation on migration with Turkey can only work if there is an EU border management system and a fully functioning EU migration policy, including well-funded and functional hotspots to differentiate refugees and economic migrants on the external EU border. Without this, it’s unlikely that even Turkey will make a dent in the numbers coming.
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The summit also failed to bring new hope to the flailing Turkish process of accession to the EU. Its conclusions commit the EU to re-energizing the EU accession process. One new negotiating chapter will be opened, with the possibility of more next year, but there was no mention of Turkish obligations under the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, despite the despicable arrest of leading Turkish journalists last week. The words of European Council President Donald Tusk about human rights and the enlargement principles uttered after the summit were just spin, intended to hide this shameful failure.
It’s a troubling time for Europe when the only thing we can agree on is that our problems should be outsourced. Instead of outsourcing challenges, EU leaders should agree to take a much-needed leap forward and provide a genuine common European response.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has drafted a blueprint of the measures necessary to deal with the refugee crisis. We have a route out of the impasse, staring us in the face. It’s scandalous that this agenda hasn’t been taken forward. We know what needs to be done, but again EU leaders, held hostage by domestic nationalists, have proven incapable of taking the tough decisions that are necessary to deliver a European response.
It is time Europe takes its destiny into its own hands, instead of trying to pay and bribe others to provide solutions for us.
Guy Verhofstadt, European parliamentary group leader for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), was prime minister of Belgium from 1999-2008.