EurActiv 2 Dec. 2015: The European Union executive is drafting a plan to fly limited numbers of refugees from Turkey direct to Europe, EU officials said yesterday (1 December), following a weekend deal under which Ankara promised to help cut chaotic mass inflows.
Council President Donald Tusk said that approximately 1.5 million people have illegally entered the EU in 2015, and most have come through Turkey.
Beyond cash to Turkey, this is likely to take the form of a plan to resettle some Syrians directly to the EU, officials said.
Refugees may be flown directly from Turkey, and also from Lebanon and Jordan.
On the sidelines of the EU-Turkey summit on Sunday, eight EU countries discussed taking part. Germany is seen as the keenest supporter of the plan; leaders of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Greece also attended, while France may also join the group.
However, officials underscore that not all these countries are necessarily committed to taking part. The Dutch and Finns are seen as the most sceptical. Sweden, for its part is now seeking to relocate some of them to other EU countries.
A precondition for the plan to work is Turkey’s fulfilment of its commitments on stemming the flow of migrants to Greece.
On Monday (30 November), just a few hours after the deal with the EU, Turkish authorities rounded up some 1,300 migrants that they said were planning to sail to Greece from hideouts near secluded Aegean beaches and forests.