The EU Foreign Ministers convened in Brussels two days ago with Austria calling for a tougher stance towards the Turkish membership urging the EU to freeze negotiations due to the recent security crackdown in Turkey.
The EU leaders will discuss the EU-Turkey refugee deal on Thursday which is directly linked to the Turkish accession talks. Erdogan keeps on threatening that Turkey will abandon the migration pact especially after the European Parliament (EP) called last month for a freeze on membership talks.
It seems that the Europe has started to realise that such a deal is too difficult to be accomplished and attempts to find alternative solutions to protect its borders in case Turkey drops out. Therefore, Frontex is already sending guards to patrol Greece’s borders with FYROM and Albania. Would the EU agency be acting in such a way if there was no imminent fear of Turkey flooding Europe with migrants and refugees?
Austria against Ankara’s membership
Austria demanded to put a firm stop to the Turkish membership procedure. Particularly, Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz mentioned: “In Turkey, dissenters are intimidated, journalists and opposition politicians are imprisoned. The death penalty is to be introduced. We as the European Union must react to this”.
However, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, who chaired the meeting, stated: “One country was unable to support the compromise which all the remaining 27 member states found acceptable. The EU remains committed to maintaining an open dialogue and working together with a democratic, inclusive and stable Turkey”.
Thus, the conclusion of the Foreign Ministers meeting was that the bloc would not open new Turkish accession chapters and rejected the demand by Austria and the EP to freeze all negotiations. The EU though will halt the accession process if Ankara reintroduces the death penalty.
Frontex deploys inside the EU
EU leaders and officials have been seriously worrying about the event of Turkey abandoning the migration deal and sending boats full of refugees to Europe. Apparently, the EU is preparing to take immediate measures in order to secure its borders.
According to Spiegel, Frontex is about to send guards to internal EU borders. More specifically, 60 guards will be placed to each border during the next two months. The Frontex guards will be divided into two groups. The first group will be checking passports at border crossing while the second one will patrol the FYROM-Greek borders.
The EU and Mali have agreed to help migrants, whose asylum requests have been turned down by the EU, return to their home country. This deal shows that there is great potential in the cooperation between the EU and African countries.
The Dutch foreign ministry, which signed the agreement on the behalf of the EU, said that: “It is the first time the EU establishes such a precise mechanism with an African country with regards to returning failed asylum seekers. Malian civil servants will travel to EU member states to help determine the identity of migrants, in order to accelerate their return. Young Malians have so much to give to their country. We must help stop Malians travelling to North Africa or Europe from losing their lives or falling into the hands of people smugglers.”
What is more, the EU intends to invest money in order to help Mali and its neighbors enhance their border control. In particular, the EU will provide more than 145 million euros throughout nine projects.
Is the EU able to manage migration crisis after all?
The EU leaders’ meeting on Thursday is most likely not going to provide any solutions to Europe’s migration problems. The main issue would be to calm the wrath of the Turkish President at the moment when the accession process has stalled.
All in all, the EU has understood that it is highly unlikely to find common grounds with Turkey regarding the latter’s membership bid and is now attempting to manage the influx of refugees by deploying more Frontex guards in the EU and forging agreements with African countries.
However, it seems that despite the significant efforts the migration crisis will keep on plaguing the Old Continent.