EU makes Turkey migrant offer but no deal yet

by ALASTAIR MACDONALD AND JAN STRUPCZEWSKI  |  published on March 18, 2016

European Union leaders agreed to offer Turkey financial and political concessions if it stops migrants reaching Greece and will meet the Turkish prime minister in Brussels on Friday to try and clinch the deal.

Even if they can overcome possible objections from Ahmet Davutoglu, however, Thursday’s EU summit revealed considerable doubts among the Europeans themselves over whether the deal can be made either legal in international law, or workable.

After talks over dinner, leaders gave negotiators a mandate to conclude an accord with Turkey by which it would take back all migrants who reach Greek islands off its coast; in return the EU would take in Syrian refugees direct from Turkey, give aid for Syrians there, speed Ankara’s EU membership negotiations and a scheme to let Turks visit Europe without visas.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who first devised the plan with Davutoglu and sprang it on surprised peers at a special summit 10 days ago, said a deal would not be easy but that all the European leaders wanted an agreement to slow the arrivals.

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