EU agrees to work for Turkish deal on migrants: Luxembourg PM

Ankara is seeking an extra three billion euros (USD 3.3 billion) in aid, plus a refugee swap under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey in exchange for every Syrian refugee.

By: AFP | Brussels | Updated: March 8, 2016 12:24 pm
Members of the Greek Red Cross and other volunteers help migrants and refugees to disembark from an inflatable boat after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. More than 850,000 people, most fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan, entered Greece by sea in 2015, according to the UNHCR, and already in 2016, some 35,455 people have arrived despite plunging winter temperatures. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov) Members of the Greek Red Cross and other volunteers help migrants and refugees to disembark from an inflatable boat after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. More than 850,000 people, most fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan, entered Greece by sea in 2015, according to the UNHCR, and already in 2016, some 35,455 people have arrived despite plunging winter temperatures. (Source:  AP)

The European Union has agreed to work for a deal with Turkey to defuse the migrant crisis by an EU summit at the end of next week, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said today after a Turkey-EU meeting in Brussels.

“President of #EUCO (Donald Tusk) will take forward the proposals and work out the details with the Turkish Side before the March #EUCO,” Bettel said in a tweet, referring to the European Council summit.

Ankara is seeking an extra three billion euros (USD 3.3 billion) in aid, plus a refugee swap under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey in exchange for every Syrian refugee that Turkey takes back from the overstretched Greek islands.

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Under the last-minute proposals tabled by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the bloc would also bring forward visa-free travel for Turks to June, and speed up the country’s long-stalled EU membership bid.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker’s top aide Martyn Selmayr tweeted: “Breakthrough with Turkey. And clear commitment to go back to Schengen by the end of the year.”

Juncker has expressed fears that a series of border closures to stop migrants entering Europe has endangered the passport-free Schengen zone, which is a pillar of unity and freedom.

Mina Andreeva, a spokeswoman for Juncker, tweeted that Juncker and Tusk agreed with Davutoglu “on main principles for jointly managing the refugee crisis.”