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EU's Need for Turkey to Halt Refugee Flow Collides With History

  • Leaders meet in Brussels with $1.1 billion on the table
  • Merkel set to reach out as Turkey's leverage increases
Thousands of refugees wait to enter a reception center on the island of Lesbos on Oct. 14. More than 500,000 migrants have entered Europe so far this year. Of that number four-fifths of have paid to be smuggled by sea to Greece from Turkey, the main transit route into the EU.

Thousands of refugees wait to enter a reception center on the island of Lesbos on Oct. 14. More than 500,000 migrants have entered Europe so far this year. Of that number four-fifths of have paid to be smuggled by sea to Greece from Turkey, the main transit route into the EU.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The European Union needs Turkey more than ever to halt the flow of refugees from the Middle East -- and has little to offer in return.

With its decade-old bid to join the 28-nation union stalled, Turkey will be the topic without being at the table at a summit of EU leaders Thursday in Brussels. On the same mission, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the biggest single refugee destination, plans to travel to Istanbul on Sunday to meet Turkish leaders.