EU and Turkey Managing Migration Together
Even though migration has always been at the heart of the European Agenda, growing instability in the EU's Southern neighbourhood has significantly increased the number of people trying to reach the European Union.
Turkey is located in the immediate neighbourhood of areas generating large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers. It is an important transit country on the main migratory routes towards Western Europe. Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has faced a huge refugee influx, which has created immense migratory pressures on the country.
As a major first reception and transit country for migrants and given its geographic position, Turkey is a main partner of the EU in the management of migratory flows. The EU will continue to engage with Turkey to jointly meet these challenges. In this context, the EU stands ready to increase cooperation with Turkey, including in the area of border management and in the fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, but also in supporting Turkey to shoulder the burden from the unprecedented refugee crisis that has affected it most.
A milestone in the cooperation between Turkey and the EU is the signing of the readmission agreement, which entered into force with respect to Turkish nationals on 1 October 2014. The visa liberalisation dialogue with Turkey was launched at the same time with a "Roadmap on Visa Exemption”.
The massive refugee influx into Turkey and the migration of refugees from Turkey to the EU over the last year added a new dimension to the cooperation. Following multilateral high-level policy dialogue on migration on 15 October 2015, EU leaders agreed on the political direction and priorities for the future and on a Joint Action Plan with Turkey as a crucial part in the EU's response to the migration crisis.
In addition, at the 18 March 2016 EU-Turkey Summit, the EU and Turkey decided further measures to break the business model of the smugglers and to offer migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk. To achieve this goal, one of the action points agreed is that all migrants not applying for asylum or whose application have been assessed unfounded or inadmissible, crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016, will be returned to Turkey. The implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement is monitored closely by the EU.