MEPs demanded details on Wednesday of the deal struck by EU leaders with Turkey on the management of migrant and refugee flows, underlining that the international asylum rules must be respected. In a plenary debate with the Council and the Commission, most political group leaders insisted that EU accession negotiations with Turkey and talks on visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals travelling to the EU should not be linked to the refugee issue.
The threats to press freedom in Turkey and the recent seizure of Zaman newspaper by the authorities, as well as Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish minorities, were raised during the discussion with Dutch minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, representing the Council, and Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. Preparations for the next European Council summit, on 17-18 March, were also addressed. MEPs discussed fiscal policy and “European Semester” economic policy coordination, which will be on the next summit agenda.
Visa exemption rule changes entail switching the country concerned from one annex to Regulation 539/01 to another (such changes are subject to co-decision by Parliament and the Council).
The one billion euros from the EU budget that the Commission promised for the Turkey refugee facility, as well as any potential additional funds coming from the EU, will also have to be negotiated and approved by Parliament under the budgetary procedure.