European leaders on Friday agreed a common position to put to Turkey’s prime minister in a bid to clinch a deal to tackle the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.
The 28 states spent the day haggling over the proposal, under which Turkey would take all migrants from Greece, helping curb an unprecedented influx of 1.2 million people from Syria and elsewhere since 2015.
But the deal comes at a heavy price including an acceleration of Turkey’s long-stalled bid for EU membership, billions of euros in extra aid and visa-free travel, despite concerns over Ankara’s human rights record.
“Agreement on EU position, @eucopresident will present it to Turkish Prime Minister before our EU Council tomorrow,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel tweeted, referring to European Council President Donald Tusk.
The new draft also mentioned that an additional three billion euros in aid for refugees in Turkey would be conditional on the initial three billion euros from the November deal with Ankara being spent first.
One major hurdle that appeared to have been overcome was opposition from Cyprus, which is rooted its long-standing tensions with Turkey over Ankara’s refusal to recognise its government on the divided island.