EU, Turkey reach migration deal

Refugee and Migrant Crisis

The EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. Turkey is to get a big injection of cash and a range of other incentives, including possible membership in the EU.

Elena Casas reports from Brussels.

Thousands of desperate refugees continue to arrive on the shores of Europe every day. But starting Sunday, all new arrivals will be sent back to Turkey.

For every Syrian refugee Turkey takes back, one Syrian will be resettled in Europe from Turkish refugee camps. The EU retains the right to reject applicants.

In exchange, Turkey will get around $6.6 billion, visa-free travel in Europe for Turkish citizens and reconsideration for Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.

EU leaders said the agreement will stop the unchecked flood of migrants into northern Europe and break the business model of people smugglers.

The main obstacle was legal. EU governments were warned the deal could breach international law if it sent people back to Turkey without giving them the right to apply for asylum and get legal representation to help them appeal a rejection.

EU officials say hundreds of immigration lawyers will be sent to Greece to assess each case,individually.

Refugee returns could now start as soon as March 20th and the EU says they will comply with international law, but that gives Greece less than 48 hours to come up with a fast track asylum appeal process that can stand up to legal challenge.