EU-Turkey Leaders’ Meeting

Migration Agenda: EU, it’s time to act!


Ahead of this Monday’s EU-Turkey Leaders’ Meeting in Varna (Bulgaria), EuroMed Rights calls on the European leaders to reconsider the “EU-Turkey deal” on migration.

Commenting on the issue, EuroMed Rights’ President, Michel Tubiana, says:

“We are very worried on the manner the cooperation with Turkey is being hailed as a success over those last two years when it is widely known that the decline in the number of irregular EU arrivals from Turkey doesn’t mean that lives are saved but that people wishing to leave Turkey are prevented from doing so. European funding is contributing to deny people the right to access the EU through legal channels, if not supporting the running of detention sites.

We have warned against the detrimental effect of the externalisation of EU’s migration and asylum policies over the past two years. The adoption of the EU-Turkey declaration, a real ‘pact of shame’, has only been the signal of the intensification of a process which the EU and its Member States aim to see reproduced across the Mediterranean region, whatever the cost. 

Such cooperation fails the EU’s legal and moral duty to protect refugees willing to seek asylum on its territory. It fails to respect the right for all to leave any country. It is bargaining on human lives.

We remind Commissioner Avramopoulos of his public commitment on 14 March 2018, stressing the EU would need more and quicker actions on legal channels, in particular resettlement. By maintaining current cooperation patterns and reproducing policy mechanisms that constraints the human rights of migrants and refugees, the EU is itself provoking the very “crisis” it claims to address. It is time to act differently!

Background information:
EuroMed Rights, currently organising a public event in Sofia on migration and asylum issues, stresses that EU’s external cooperation to promote the rights of migrants and refugees overseas is not exclusive of the duty to provide access to its own territory. This includes the prohibitions of refoulement and collective returns. This is particularly important considering the human rights’ situation in Turkey and President Erdogan’s authoritarian drift, a country where international protection does not respect the Geneva Convention, and where many Turkish citizens are increasingly in need of international protection themselves. The safeguarding of human rights cannot be hijacked for the sake of border management, especially when it implies violence against men, women, and children. In Europe, documented evidence piles up testifying of push-back practices for instance in Greece, Spain, Italy, while the lack of political leadership on genuine reception and access mechanisms have resulted in a very concerning revival of clampdown against migrants and refugee rights in almost all EU countries, in 2018.