EU Offers Turkey More Accession Talks for Help With Refugees

How Will the Paris Attacks Affect EU-Turkey Relations?
  • Bloc planning Turkey summit on refugees in Brussels on Nov. 29
  • EU plans intergovernmental meeting to open Chapter 17

The European Union is stepping up its courtship of Turkey, promising to inject fresh momentum into accession talks in return for more help from the government in Ankara to stem the flow of migrants traversing the country.

The EU expects to hold a summit in Brussels on refugees with Turkey on Nov. 29 and is planning an inter-governmental meeting in December to open membership discussions on economic policy, an EU official said on Monday, asking not to be named because negotiations with Turkey are ongoing. By then, the bloc will have formed a fund that will eventually be worth 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to help refugees in Turkey.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who last month traveled to Istanbul seeking a deal on refugees with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said a breakthrough depended on Turkey first taking steps to stem illegal migration.

“We are still in negotiations about the EU-Turkey migration agenda,” Merkel said at the Turkish resort of Antalya, where she’s attending the Group of 20 nations summit. “If we want to move ahead, we will have to stop the illegal migration. Then we will have to talk with Turkey about burden sharing and financial help.”

The scale of the refugee crisis is so great that it’s unfair to expect Turkey to handle the consequences alone, Erdogan said at the closing of the G-20 meeting.

The opening of a new chapter in accession talks would be the first such step since November 2013 and would mark a breakthrough in Turkey’s stalled negotiations. Merkel has said that Turkey is key to stemming the flow of refugees to Europe from conflicts in Syria and Iraq and countries further afield such as Afghanistan.

In return for aid and moves toward accession, the EU wants Turkey to stick to an October plan that includes increased interception of migrants trying to slip through European borders and taking back those who made it to Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, the official said. Turkey is also expected to pass legislation to formalize education of Syrian refugees as well as their participation in the labor force.

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