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Beyond the Crisis Mode of the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement

Towards Sustainable Rights-based EU Asylum and Refugee Policies
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This policy paper, which is published in the midst of Europe’s fastest growing exodus since World War II, assesses the effects of the EU Turkey Refugee Agreement for Greece, Turkey and the European Union. It provides an overview of the 2015 context and the development of the agreement and analyses its repercussions in the region as well as for the EU as a whole. It concludes that the EU needs a strong alternative to the current agreement with Turkey, which is rights-based and sustainable. The author argues for replacement of refugee camps at the external border with registration centres and relocation after 72 hours and a continuation of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey with a slightly different focus. He also makes the case for a broad and global resettlement scheme based on a coalition of willing member states that will be taking welcoming cities and local potential into account. This paper was finalised prior to the war on Ukraine, which will obviously have huge repercussions for different policy fields on a European and global level and change the context for any EU migration policy for years to come. However, the ideas and concepts expressed in this study remain valid, just as the challenges in the Aegean region.

Product details
Date of Publication
March 2022
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Thessaloniki
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents

Foreword 4
Summary 6
Abbreviations 8
Introduction 9
1. Five Years of the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement: 10
The Challenges at Hand
1.1 Understanding the 2016 EU-Turkey Agreement 10
1.1.1 Asylum Migration Conditions 2015 10
1.1.2 Creating the EU-Turkey Agreement 12
1.2 Did the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement work? 14
1.3 Consequences of the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement 16
1.3.1 Consequences in Turkey 16
1.3.2 Consequences in Greece 18
1.3.3 Consequences for the EU 19
1.3.4 Summary: Re-assessing the EU-Turkey Refugee 20
Agreement – EU Refugee Policies at an Impasse?
1.4 The EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement 2021 – Crisis in a Standstill? 24
1.4.1 A renewed agreement in the context of foreign relations 24
1.4.2 A renewed agreement in the context of broader migration 25
policy developments
2. Breaking the Impasse: Refugee Protection as Solution 26
2.1 The Challenges at Hand 27
2.1.1 Short-term 27
2.1.2 Long-term 29
2.2 Tackling the Regional Crisis: The Refugee Protection Scheme 30
2.2.1 Ending the Externalisation of Border Control: 30
Regaining Border Sovereignty
2.2.2 Providing Humanitarian Aid for Refugees in the Region 35
2.2.3 Setting up a Global Refugee Admissions Program (GRAP) 36
2.2.4 Allocating Refugees and Asylum Seekers 38
2.2.5 Summary: What are the Goals of the Refugee 40
Protection Scheme?
2.3 Tackling the EU Crisis: Towards a Rights-based EU Asylum and 41
Refugee Policy System
2.3.1 A Common Asylum and Refugee System 42
2.3.2 Making Refugee Protection European 43
2.3.3 Distinguish protection and integration responsibilities 44
2.3.4 Summary: Prepared for Future Forced Migration Challenges 44
Literature 46