Date
17 January 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference after a EU leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday. Photo: Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference after a EU leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

EU leaders back Turkey deal aimed at curbing migrant influx

EU leaders have backed the outlines of a Turkey deal aimed at helping curb the flow of migrants into the continent, but are yet to decide on the aid to be given to Ankara in exchange, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The European Commission had floated figures of up to 3 billion euros (US$3.4 billion) for Turkey as part of a broader cooperation pact, but an agreement on a specific figure is yet to be reached, the report said.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday following a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe’s contribution should be in the “ballpark” of 3 billion euros.

That is because Turkey had spent some 7 billion euros in recent years to accommodate around two millions refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict, she said.

Turkey is the main departure point for the 450,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in Greece this year.

The action plan is a “major step” in the right direction, European Council President Donald Tusk said.

“Still, as I made clear from the very start, an agreement with Turkey makes sense only if it effectively contains the flow of refugees.”

The proposed aid would be part of a broad set of proposals that would commit Turkey to taking steps to reduce the number of Syrian refugees leaving the country.

But the plan will also offer Turkey a number of significant benefits, including speeding up the target date for visa-free travel to the EU for Turkish citizens and reenergizing the talks over Turkey’s accession to the bloc, the report said.

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