The EU and the Turkish government came to an agreement for Turkey to host the refugees on their way to Europe.
The arrival in Europe of people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, especially Syria, intensified as of 2014. Countries such as Italy and Greece were overwhelmed by the flood of arrivals so asked other European countries for help.
The European Union (EU) decided to take measures to help countries like Italy, Greece and Hungary to manage this crisis. First, a relocation quota scheme was established, assigning a number of displaced persons to each country.
Initially it was decided that 160,000 refugees would be distributed in European countries, distributing them proportionally according to a series of criteria such as population or unemployment rate.
This measure has proved to be a failure: some countries have rebelled and refused to accept refugees. Some states, like Hungary, do not want to accept any.
The deal with Turkey
Faced with the inability to manage this massive influx of people, from 2016 on a change of strategy was decided: it was no longer a matter of distributing these people throughout the EU, but stopping them from coming in.
To do this, Turkey’s collaboration was necessary, a country between Greece and Syria, which has already hosted more than two and a half million refugees. The EU signed an agreement with Turkey to stop more refugees coming into Europe.
The agreement allowed the EU to return a person in an irregular situation (without asylum) to Turkey, in exchange for those in refugee status (with asylum) recognized in Turkey. In addition, Brussels gave 3,000 million Euros for Turkey to invest in the welfare of refugees in its territory.
This agreement with Turkey was strongly criticized by humanitarian organizations, which accused Europe of shying away from its responsibility towards refugees.
In essence, the purpose of the agreement is to discourage asylum seekers from coming into Europe. Because what’s the point trying to reach the European coasts if you know that they are going to deport you anyway?
— Amnistía Internacional España (@amnistiaespana) March 16, 2016
In this way, the arrival of refugees seeking asylum has already been reduced since last year.
The most critical voices consider it is a shame that the EU and its states, which defend human rights as one of their fundamental values, have not given a better response to refugees.