European Union Essay Example

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The Paradox of the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal

Introduction

The Challenge

Since last year Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis over last decades. The war in Syria and the destabilization in Middle East made millions of people to leave their home countries, searching for a better future in Europe and in other parts of the world. The refugee flows through Mediterranean Sea and particularly through Aegean Sea has increased significantly from last summer. Greece and Italy have become the entry gates for those people who want to come to Europe. Media exposed daily images of drowned children that shocked the rest of the world and a conversation started on how we can help these people to access Europe without being in a serious risk of their lives. This problem revealed another issue for European Union. There is not a coherence common policy on external borders and the Dublin II regulation which implies the procedures of processing asylum requests. This entails that there is inefficiency to handle a crisis of a scale like this. Furthermore, many EU Member States have demonstrated a xenophobic character as they were unwilling to show solidarity to other Member States which had faced this tremendous humanitarian crisis.

Sarah (2014) notes that Commission and Member States, like Germany and France, decided that they needed to reduce the refugee flows from Turkey to Greece in order to avoid a bigger destabilization of EU coherence. The flows from the coastline of Turkey to Greek islands continued in autumn and winter and everybody was afraid of what will happen when the weather will be propitious again. To achieve that, EU started negotiations with Turkey to reach a deal that it will be in accordance with International Law and the values of EU, but more important to pass the message to the refugees and illegal migrants that the Western Balkan route through Greece is not an easy option for them anymore. On the other hand, Turkey which has in its territory more than two million refugees from Syria, as well as, refugees from other countries (e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan),asked for assistance and a close cooperation with European Union for this issue. During the last months, many meetings took place between the leaders of EU and Turkey. While the negotiations appeared to lead to the achievement of an agreement, a new obstacle was there to stop them. That made the negotiations to look endless and many believed that it will be almost impossible to achieve a deal with Turkey.

The background of the topic – how it is related to the EU

The refugee crisis is an ongoing problem for Europe in the last two years. Since the civil war started in Syria, millions of people have escaped from this dangerous territory in order to search for better living conditions, a better future. The first countries in which Syrians found a temporary settlement included Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. More than 2.2 million refugees from Syria are living now in Turkey and the majority of them want to leave come to Europe .The problem was not so visible to European countries until the spring of 2015 when refugee flows from Turkey to Greece and from Libya to Italy started to occur in a big scale. Greece and Italy faced a humanitarian crisis so tremendous that it was not on their hands to control it. The arrival rates of refugees and irregular migrants were doubled in comparison with 2014, or even higher for some months. As argued by Sandra (2006) during the same period (summer of 2015), Greece was in the middle of a political and economic instability. A referendum, the closed banks and the capital controls has switched the Greeks’ and Greek government’s attention from this problem. After the agreement that was achieved between Greece and Eurozone, everyone understood that another huge problem was already formed. The Greek islands were filled by refugees and migrants.

The conditions for these people were at least inhuman but the flows continued every day. In June 2015, it was the first time that the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the Member States of EU started to discuss on this problem. However, EU for one more time in its history was trying to avoid facing ‘the problem’. The first decision was made on 14 September 2015, bringing in a temporary and exceptional relocation mechanism that it applicable for 40.000 people, a decision made on a meeting held by the Justice and Home Affairs ministers after the proposal of European Commission. At the same month, an informal meeting took place for EU leaders where they decided to extend this temporary mechanism for 120.000 persons. In the same meeting, it was the first time that the leaders of EU “called for a reinforced dialogue with Turkey at all levels”. Before this decision, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk had a first meeting with the Prime minister of Turkey Ahmed Davutoglu in Ankara to see if there is any change EU and Turkey to cooperate closer in the field of refugee crisis. This is the time where the negotiations between Turkey and European Union started with two major goals: to find a solution to tackle the migration flows from Turkey and to support the refugees that lived in Turkey with humanitarian and financial aid.

According to European Commission (2015) this issue does not only affect turkey or the countries receiving refugees in the European regions but all other countries in Europe. It poses dangers in all economic sectors, political and cultural sectors. The financial pressures on Jordan’s budget caused by the invasion of Syrian immigrants are wide. As of October 2015, the over-all number of Syrian immigrants in Jordan was 630,000. While it may be too early to describe the full influence of this invasion on long-run macroeconomic consequences, a number of socio-economic indicators by now provide an unattractive picture. Another subject of worry to policy makers in host states is the influence of the immigrant invasion on the local labor market. Illogically, the joblessness rate in Jordan has been comparatively steady over the past few years, running from 11.4 % in the first quarter of 2012 to 12.9 % in the first quarter of 2015. A number of subjects relating to non-neighboring republics can be generalized from the Jordanian case. First, most adjacent states have been able to deal with the invasion of immigrants without triggering a employment market disaster in the short-run.

What happened in the past on this issue and currently, what developments are taking place. How the EU is dealing (or projected to deal) with this issue

Turkey made clear and publicly what they asked in return to reach a close cooperation with EU. The next step of the negotiations was the decision for the EU–Turkey Joint Action Plan on 15 October 2015. That Action Plan was a step for EU and Turkey to support the Syrians who are under temporary protection and includes actions which need to be implemented immediately by both sides. “The Action Plan tries to address the current crisis situation in three ways:

(a). by addressing the root causes leading to the massive influx of Syrians,

(b). by supporting Syrians under temporary protection and their host communities in Turkey (Part I) and

(c). by strengthening cooperation to prevent irregular migration flows to the EU (Part II).

The EU and Turkey will address this crisis together in a spirit of burden sharing. The plan builds on and is consistent with commitments taken by Turkey and the EU in other contexts notably the Visa Liberalization Dialogue. In both parts it identifies the actions that are to be implemented simultaneously by Turkey and the EU” (European Commission, 2015). This JAP is divided in two parts. According to Human Rights Watch (2016) in both parts, Turkey and EU have specific actions that they need to fulfill. The most notable of these acts for EU are:

  • First, to support Turkey with funds, outside the IPA, and cope with the humanitarian challenges faced in its territory.

  • To ensure that the funds will be used efficiently, that EU Institutions with Turkey will make a comprehensive programming.

  • To inform the people in Turkey who are attending to cross EU borders for the risks linked to irregular departures.

  • To support Turkey to compact refugees smuggling.

  • to support the cooperation between Member states and Turkey for organizing joint return operations and

  • To increase the support (financial and political) to Turkey for meeting the requirements for the Visa Liberalization Dialogue. On the other hand,

Turkey was obligated to take the follow acts:

  • First, to continue ensuring that refugees and migrants are registered and have the appropriate documents.

  • To adopt and implement policies for the Syrian people to have access to public and health services.

  • To cooperate in order to accept back irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection.

  • To alignment the Turkish Visa with the Visa Roadmap requirements.

  • to exchange information and to cooperate with EU and its Member states

  • To intensify the cooperation with FRONTEX on exchange information (European Commission, 2015).

All the previous requirements were the first steps for a better and closer cooperation between the two parties in the refugee field. However, the implementation of this Joint Action Plan was very slow by both sides. Turkey seemed to play with the time in these negotiations. After the decision for the JAP and the delays in its implementation, another meeting took place between the president of Turkey and the Presidents of European Council and Commission Tusk and Juncker in Antalya on 14 November 2015. Two days before, in an informal meeting of EU leaders in Valletta, decided to call Turkey for a summit. The meeting between Turkey and EU presidents was important, not only because they decided to make the EU-Turkey Summit later in November, but also because the dialogues where leaked from this meeting shows how Turkey was tough player in this bargaining. It was revealed that in this meeting EU postponed the EU Progress Report on Turkey and it was published on 8 November 2015, one week after the general elections in Turkey.

According to European Commission (2015) At this point one can recognize some elements as a bargain process. First the players who are EU and Turkey, in the case, second, recognize the interdependency because the parties have at least something in common and this is the willingness to find a solution on the refugee’s problem. Third, there are differences of interest, and this is easy to be argued because from the side of Turkey they want to re-energize the relationships with EU and on the other side the main subject is to reduce the flow of irregular migrants in EU. With regard to the previous agreements First, Turkey asked to lift the visa requirements not on October 2016 as they had agreed before, but until the end of June 2016. Second, except from the three billion euros for the Refugee Facility for Turkey, they asked for three extra billion euros as funding for the refugees. On the other hand, it is the first time that Turkey took the commitment for accepting back all the irregular migrants (including Syrians) to its ground from Greek islands.

Turkey also committed for the resettlement scene that entails that for each refugee that Turkey accepts back, the Member States have to take one from Turkey. These six principals became the base for the agreement reached on the next meeting on 17-18 March which I will analyze in the next sub-chapter together with the final negotiations between the two parties. At this point, we can also recognize the concept of bargaining process by the following aspects. The time factor was used by Turkey in a tactical way and that is clear from the delay of implementing the previous agreements, waiting for better results on the bargaining. Moreover, the characteristic of possibility of compensation can be detected here as Turkey asked six billion euros to conclude in an agreement. Another characteristic is the secrecy of some meetings derived by the fear to have a stalemate. Another concept about bargain process is commitment. The commitment plays a vital role in the bargaining process.

How different institutions are responding or are expected to respond

According to Human Rights Watch (2016) taking into consideration the information that was gathered and examined, one can conclude that the agreement between European Union and Turkey on refugees could be explained as a bargaining process. The explicit bargaining was the context in which these negotiations took place and made the final agreement possible. Generally, from this bargaining process and the negotiations between the two parties, both sides took what they were seeking at the end. EU will not have to deal with the growing irregular migrant flows from Turkey and on the other side, Turkey succeeded to re-energize the relation with EU whilst the government in Ankara is accused for violations of human rights and freedom of press.

According to European Commission (2015) this deal offered to Erdogan a new legitimacy in the international political scene. Both parties concluded that it was better to make a compromise than not a deal at all. EU promised a set of gifts to Turkey for cooperating with an active role in preventing the influx of migrants in return. That role could be summarized as containing the refugees on Turkish ground. Moreover, the disputes among the Member States of EU about the Schengen area and the internal checks seem to be reduced, at least for now. On the other hand, Turkey seems that tried to convert this crisis into an opportunity to set their rules in cooperation with the EU. Nonetheless, both parties demonstrated their willingness to find out a deal about 50the refugees’ influx.

Works Cited

European Commission, Proposal for a Council Decision Establishing Provisional Measures in the Area of International Protection for the Benefit of Italy and Greece(COM/2015/286), 27 May 2015, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ TXT/?uri=celex:52015PC0286

Human Rights Watch, EU: Turkey Mass-Return Deal Threatens Rights, 15 March 2016, https://www.hrw.org/node/287601

Sandra Lavenex, “Shifting Up and Out: The Foreign Policy of European Immigration Control”, in West European Politics, Vol. 29, No. 2 (March 2006), p. 329-350, https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:76488

Sarah Wolff, “The Politics of Negotiating EU Readmission Agreements: Insights from Morocco and Turkey”, in European Journal of Migration and Law, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2014), p. 69-95, https://sarahwolffeu.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/emil_016_01_69-96-euras-sw.pdf

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