Fifth anniversary of the EU-Turkey statement

In March 2016 the European Union and Turkey signed a statement to address migrant flows.

Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

What is the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016?

To minimise illegal migration from Turkey to EU states, especially Greece, and to prevent any more deaths in the Aegean Sea, the EU and Turkey agreed in March 2016 on coordinated procedure.

In the EU-Turkey statement Turkey agreed to the return of irregular migrants reaching the Greek islands.

In this, European and international law is fully upheld. For every Syrian returned to Turkey in this way, the EU member states declared themselves willing to take in another Syrian entitled to protection from Turkey (known as the 1:1 mechanism).

In addition, the EU agreed to provide financial support that initially totalled 3 billion euros for the care of refugees in Turkey. This sum was then increased in 2018 by an additional tranche of 3 billion euros.

The statement also includes an assurance that Turkey will clamp down on criminal traffickers.

Since the statement was implemented, the numbers of irregular refugees and migrants reaching the EU across the Aegean Sea has dropped significantly.

The central philosophy of the statement is to ensure appropriate protection for refugees in Turkey and to create prospects – so that they have no reason to try to reach the EU irregularly.

How has the migration situation changed since 2015?

The situation today cannot be compared with 2015. The EU-Turkey statement has helped ensure that the number of people arriving illegally has dropped significantly, and that far fewer people have set off on the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean.

Germany and other EU member states provide financial support to help Turkey cope with the extremely challenging situation created by the presence of 3.6 million refugees from Syria alone.

How much is the EU providing to care for refugees in Turkey?

The EU and its member states provided 3 billion euros in 2016/17 and another 3 billion euros in 2018/19. The funds are managed and distributed by aid organisations and project partners on the ground. The funding is already earmarked in full for concrete projects and tied under the provisions of contracts concluded; more than 4 billion euros have already been disbursed.

What specific form does EU assistance for refugees in Turkey take?

A large percentage of the funding directly benefits refugees on the ground. The funds are spent in cooperation with the relevant United Nations agencies, the development organisations of EU member states, established international NGOs, and the Turkish authorities.

The assistance in detail

  • Over 1.8 million refugees receive support for their day-to day survival
  • 660,000 refugee children receive schooling
  • 365 new schools built
  • over 90,000 school pupils are receiving special tutoring
  • over 14 million doctors’ visits to ensure primary medical care
  • 177 hospitals and health centres with a staff of over 3,400 employees (medical staff) provided
  • over 4 million vaccine doses given to refugee children and pregnant women
  • over 1.8 million pregnant women given gynaecological examinations

How many refugees has the EU already taken in from Turkey?

The readiness of the EU to take in Syrian refugees entitled to protection from Turkey is an integral part of the EU-Turkey statement. On this basis, EU member states have taken in a total of over 28,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey since 2016. Germany has taken in more than 10,000 of this number.

Will there be an extension of the EU-Turkey statement?

The EU-Turkey statement is not time limited. The EU leads negotiations on its continuation, and it is in dialogue with Turkey.