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EU, Turkey agree on refugee action plan: reports

Brussels and Ankara have set up an action plan on regulating the flow of refugees to Europe, according to media reports. New camps and coordinated border controls are the cornerstones of the plan.

Both German weekly "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" and public broadcaster ARD reported Sunday that the European Commission and the Turkish government have tentatively agreed to set up new refugee camps in Turkey and launch joint Greek-Turkish border patrols.

According to the reports, the plan requires Turkey to better protect its

border with Greece,

which is along one of the main routes refugees use to enter EU territory.

Turkish and Greek coast guards would work together to patrol the eastern Aegean Sea, coordinated by Frontex, the EU's border control agency. Refugees would then be sent back to Turkey, although EU member states are debating whether Turkey can be classified as a country of safe origin.

The reports say six new refugee camps for up to 2 million people would be set up. EU states would commit to taking some of the refugees so that up to half a million people could be relocated to Europe without having to use traffickers or take the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

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ARD also reported that the Commission is prepared to provide more than the 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) already pledged for the care of refugees to get Turkey on board with the plan.

The broadcaster said the plan had not yet been discussed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is scheduled to visit Brussels on Monday and take part in a further meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday along with EU, western Balkan and eastern Mediterranean countries.

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble also told German public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday night that the Commission and EU member states were stepping up efforts to stem the flow of migrants.

"The EU will do that very fast now, especially with regard to the cooperation with Turkey," he said.

An EU official quoted by the Reuters news agency also said EU officials had prepared proposals on how to manage migrant and refugee flows for discussion during Erdogan's visit.

ng/cmk (Reuters, dpa)

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