The European Union and Turkey should focus efforts on reforming their approach to the renewed refugee crisis and addressing its underlying causes instead of just mitigating the negative short-term consequences, Madrid-based think tank Elcano Royal Institute wrote for journal Eurasia Review.
Since the 2016 refugee deal with Turkey, when the EU offered six billion euros of financial aid for refugee services, visa exemption for Turkish citizens and revitalised accession talks for Turkey in return for Turkey stopping the flow of migrants, the EU has opted for short-term solutions to outsource the migration issue, when it should have designed a common policy, the article said.
While the flow was significantly reduced, the EU “failed to keep its promises under the deal (except part of the financial aid),” while also becoming dependent on the Turkish government’s willingness to cooperate, the article said.
Internal pressure from Turkish society’s changing attitude towards refugees and the continued state of conflict in Syria led to Turkey announcing in early March that it would no longer prevent migrants and asylum seekers from attempting to cross into Europe.
Due to the Syrian government’s intensified efforts to take control in rebel-held Idlib, a new wave of refugees has gathered at the border with Turkey, which is already home to 4.1 million out of the 25.9 million refugees worldwide, according to the UNCHR.
“It is crystal clear that Turkey cannot cope alone,” the article said. “For any deal to work, there has to be a functioning resettlement mechanism.”
The EU should pursue policies towards a coalition of member states willing to resettle refugees, despite possible rejection, it said, as well as trying to encourage “multilateral diplomatic frameworks” for the stabilisation of Syria.
Erdoğan’s March 9 meeting with the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen shows there is still a need for common ground between the two sides, and both should work on reforming their cooperation, it said.
The EU’s “Fortress Europe” practices and insistence on a securitised response to the refugee crisis has undermined its legitimacy in the eyes of its own citizens, the article said, and is “severely damaging to its image as a normative power”.