Kirkhope: Real solutions not false promises needed to solve migration crisis

08-Mar-2016 @ 01:00

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Before the European Council of the 17th March, EU leaders need to ask themselves whether the proposed agreement with Turkey is really going to solve the migrant crisis, or whether it is committing the EU to an undeliverable plan at great cost for Europe, Conservative Home Affairs Spokesman Timothy Kirkhope MEP has said. 

Speaking after the EU-Turkey summit broke up with no formal agreement, but an outline of key points for a deal later this month, Mr Kirkhope, a former British immigration minister, and rapporteur on the EU's permanent relocation system said:

"It is clear that some heat needs to be taken out of the Balkans. However, in desperation, some EU leaders are asking us to tear up the rule book for the second time in a year. The EU needs to stop trying to find this fanciful silver bullet and instead focus on a number of actions to protect the external border, and strengthen our reception capacity and processing systems. This crisis cannot be solved by one agreement, but it can be seriously eased by a number of different coordinated actions.

"Last year's silver bullet was a relocation system that did not work. This year's seems to be an all-encompassing deal with Turkey that relies on their goodwill, despite little evidence that they have delivered on promises already made. I have serious doubts that this is going to work in the real world, even if it survives the almost certain court challenges.

"We need Turkey as a major and important partner, but not at any cost. Any money handed over to Turkey must be incremental and based on clear criteria that must be met. If they fail to meet their end of the bargain then there should be no money. Frankly, I think we would be much more successful spending six billion euros on border guards and processing facilities in the EU.

"Visa liberalisation should only be granted if Turkey meets the strict criteria for granting it. I fear that in agreeing to visa liberalisation we are replacing one series of pressures from economic migration with another. We should not rush into this decision without full consideration.

"I agree with breaking the link between boarding a boat and being allowed to settle in the EU, which is why we have been calling for direct resettlement since this crisis began. However, there are a number of practical questions about how the one-for-one policy will work. Who will put people back on their boats? What if people refuse to go? What if people throw themselves and their families overboard and take their chances in the Aegean? How strong will Turkey's checks be on the validity of the refugees they send to Europe? Where will they settle and how will we then prevent secondary movement of genuine refugees? Will this not shift pressures further along the Mediterranean?

"Before the summit later this month, EU leaders need to seriously ask themselves if this is the 'solution' they have sought. I fear that it is a series of vague promises that cost the house, cannot be delivered, move the problem elsewhere, and once again tear up the EU's rules in the middle of a crisis."

Contact: ECR Press Office, James Holtum on +32 473 861762;


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