Priority to be given to EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert during a press conference

The Chancellor announced that the EU will hold a special migration summit with Turkey in early March

Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

The heads of state and government all agreed that priority was to be given to implementing the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan. A special European Council meeting with Turkey has been scheduled for early March.

“I am very pleased with how the discussions went,” the Chancellor said at the end of the first day of the EU summit in Brussels. The discussions on finding a solution to the migration and refugee crisis involving the heads of state and government “showed very clearly what unites us”.

Clear commitment to implementing the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan

Despite their different opinions, all the 28 Member States agreed to give priority to implementing the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan, the Chancellor said. It had become clear that they all wanted to work together to protect Europe’s external borders, to reduce the number of refugees arriving in Europe and to combat illegal migration.

That is why attention will now focus on the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan: Another special summit with Turkey is scheduled to take place in early March. Angela Merkel said that the summit would be used to assess where the EU and Turkey stand and what measures might possibly still have to be taken. Results would have to be seen “relatively quickly”, she said.

The Chancellor highlighted the NATO monitoring mission in the Aegean Sea that will begin by 24 February at the latest and was backed by all those taking part in the summit. It would thus be possible to gain a first impression in early March of how effectively the EU’s external borders were being protected with NATO support.

We are making headway

Chancellor Merkel said that good progress had been made so far – especially since the EU-Turkey agenda was adopted in November last year: “We are making headway on combating the root causes of the current migration flows.” She referred, among other measures, to the successful donor conference in London on 4 February, when significant financial pledges had been made. That meant, Merkel said, that the World Food Programme was now well-funded so as to be able to help in Syria and its neighbours this year.

The focus of the EU-Africa Summit in Malta had been on improving conditions on the African continent. Angela Merkel also pointed out that the EU had made a total of three billion euros available for concrete refugee projects in Turkey. Germany had also offered Iraq a loan. People who wished to return to towns and cities liberated from so-called Islamic State would benefit from that funding.

The Chancellor called attention to the fact that significantly more staff had been made available to Frontex. Progress had been made on setting up “hotspots”, she said, especially in Greece.

The European Council meeting is taking place in Brussels on 18 and 19 February. A meeting between Turkey and the 11 EU Member States that are particularly committed to implementing the EU-Turkey migration agenda was originally scheduled to take place ahead of the summit. However, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu cancelled the talks following the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey.