In March 2017, the European Commission will present the 5th Report on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, summarising the progress made in the implementation of the Statement since it took effect on 20 March and developments having taken place since the last report published on 8 December 2016.
The aim of the EU-Turkey Statement, agreed on 18 March 2016, is to replace disorganised, chaotic, irregular and dangerous migratory flows by organised, safe and legal pathways to Europe for those entitled to international protection in line with EU and international law. A core goal of the Statement has been to break the business model of smugglers exploiting migrants and refugees taking the potentially fatal risk of crossing irregularly from Turkey to Greece.
The implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement has confirmed the trend of a steady delivery of results, albeit in the face of many challenges. Numbers of irregular crossings of the Aegean during the reporting period remained dramatically lower than before the EU-Turkey Statement. Since March, arrivals have averaged 90 per day, compared to 10,000 in a single day in October last year. Return operations have continued to be carried out with an additional 170 persons returned since the Third Report, bringing the total number of persons returned under the Statement or the Greece-Turkey bilateral readmission protocol to 1,187. However, important shortfalls remain, notably as regards the still too slow pace of returns from Greece to Turkey which has led to additional pressure on the Greek islands. The situation deserves not only careful monitoring but, more importantly, additional efforts to help improve the situation on the Greek islands. It is therefore essential that sufficient resources are provided to ensure the effective processing of asylum applications and that Member States respond in full to calls from the European Asylum Support Office. To ensure full implementation of EU actions under the EU-Turkey Statement and to alleviate the pressure on the islands, the EU Coordinator Maarten Verwey has today published a Joint Action Plan elaborated with the Greek authorities.
As regards the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, seven benchmarks remain to be met by Turkey. The Commission encourages Turkey’s efforts to complete the delivery of all outstanding benchmarks as soon as possible. The Commission and Turkey have continued their dialogue to find solutions, including on the legislative and procedural changes needed to meet the outstanding benchmarks.
The Commission has continued to accelerate the delivery of funding under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, having already allocated a total of €2.2 billion out of the €3 billion foreseen for 2016-2017 to address the most urgent needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey. The amounts contracted have increased to €1.3 billion. The Commission is making all necessary efforts to ensure an acceleration of disbursements under the Facility, the sum of which has now reached €677 million.