During this week’s European Council summit, leaders are expected to discuss EU-Turkey relations and revisit conclusions from the December summit in which they reaffirmed the development of a cooperative relationship on migration issues. As well as that, last Thursday marked the five-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal, which EU leaders may decide to relaunch.
In anticipation of the European Council, on Saturday ministers from Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Malta and Italy met in Athens, calling on the EU to take a stronger stance towards Turkey and urging other EU Member States to share the burden of migration. The management of arrival of migrants was also the topic of debate during an informal meeting of the foreign and home affairs ministers earlier this month. The Council highlighted the need to pursue a balanced approach which takes into consideration all relevant aspects of migration policy to support comprehensive, balanced, and mutually beneficial partnerships, with a need for more coherent, strategic, flexible and focused EU funding.
The EU is also yet to reach a final deal on the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, which was announced in September to improve and speed up procedures as well as ensure greater sharing of responsibility and solidarity between Member States.
New Pact on Migration and Asylum – September 2020
European Council Conclusions – December 2020
24 April 2021: College Meeting on new EU strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings
26 April 2021: Vote on human rights protection and the EU external migration policy
The European Movement International position
Throughout the past year, conditions have considerably worsened for refugees and asylum seekers due to the pandemic, from the reduced ability to seek asylum to the lack of access to public health services and labour opportunities. It is crucial that the EU continues keep the issue of migration on the agenda and that Member States agree on a migration and asylum policy that treats migrants with dignity and respect, as we argue in our policy position on Migration and Europe: Protecting Fundamental Rights.
It is also important that migration be tackled with greater solidarity so as to relieve the pressure on overburdened states. As highlighted in our policy position “Migration and the Refugee Crisis: A European Response”, efforts in the area of migration policy have to be made by all Member States in order to alleviate the pressure on the main countries of arrival. Fair sharing of responsibility to host asylum seekers and refugees must take place according to the economic and social capacities of EU Member States and EEA states.