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Turkey-Greece migrant crossings drop

Matt ZuvelaJune 15, 2016

According to a report issued by the EU, the bloc's refugee agreement with Turkey is working as planned. However, outstanding issues still remain on the deal, which has put strain on both the EU and Turkey.

Griechenland Flüchtlinge von Afghanistan und Pakistan
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/O.Panagiotou

A progress report issued by the European Commission on Wednesday indicates that the number of migrants attempting to enter the European Union via Greece from Turkey has dropped. The Commission says it sees this as proof that the EU-Turkey Statement - an agreement reached in March to help control the refugee problem in Europe - is working.

The reduced number of "irregular crossings" is quite evident when comparing dangerous sea crossings. Prior to the Statement being reached, these numbered around 1,740 per day. In the Commission's latest update, the number is down to 47.

Additionally, the Commission says its "One for One" plan of resettling migrants is working as planned. Under the agreement, for every migrant that enters Greece "whose applications for asylum have been declared inadmissible" and who is therefore returned to Turkey, the EU will accept one Syrian refugee from Turkey who applies for asylum using the normal legal channels. The Commission said a total of 511 Syrians had been resettled to the EU so far in this manner.

Despite positive signs that the agreement was working, the Commission said "urgent attention should be given by Greece to increase its capacity in processing asylum applications and appeals on an individual basis." In addition, Turkey must "take the necessary measures to fulfill the remaining visa liberalization benchmarks as soon as possible in order to enable the EU to lift the visa requirements for Turkish citizens."

This was a key bargaining chip for Turkey when the deal was struck, but the EU is only willing to loosen its visa requirements for Turkish citizens if certain benchmarks are met by Ankara. The Commission's next progress report on the EU-Turkey agreement is expected in September.

The Q&A on refugee summit