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Juncker: EU and Turkey agree on joint plan on refugees

The EU has agreed to open new chapters in Turkey's long-stalled accession talks in return for cooperation on the refugee crisis. Bloc members are also considering billions in financial aid for Ankara.

The two sides are now in agreement on "the exact content of a joint action plan" to stem the flow of refugees arriving to Europe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said after the refugee summit in Brussels early Friday.

The EU and Turkey also agreed to "speed up" the talks on easing visa restrictions for Turkish citizens, according to Juncker.

The plan mostly deals with providing more aid to help Turkey manage around 2 million refugees on its soil. Turkey is also the main starting point for the hundreds of thousands of refugees crossing the Mediterranean and entering Europe, with many EU officials

pressuring the country to crack down on human smugglers.

Turkey had previously asked for 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in financial assistance, while the EU offered only 1 billion euros.

Commenting on the request after the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Turkey had already spent 7 billion euros on refugees, and it would make sense for the EU to provide the equivalent.

However, financial details are still being worked on, according to Juncker. There was also no immediate schedule on the plan's timeline.

EU needs 'adequate response' from Turkey

Speaking to the press, European Council President Donald Tusk stressed that the agreement "only makes sense if it stems the influx of refugees."

He added that Turkey would have to meet its commitments to help control the flow of migrants, mostly fleeing the war in Syria, and ensure that their asylum requests were properly dealt with.

"We need a response and an adequate response from the Turkish side; they are our partners in the crisis and the 'more for more' principle applies," he said.

Merkel also announced that the EU had agreed to open new chapters in Turkey's long-running EU accession talks, without providing further details.

Merkel will

meet Turkish leaders in Istanbul

on Sunday.

dj/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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