EU to hold migration summit with Turkey on March 7

The European Union and Turkey will hold a summit on the migration crisis on March 7, top EU officials said Wednesday, with the bloc keen to stem the migrant flows making their way from Turkey to Europe.

"The high numbers [of arrivals] we are still witnessing have to go down, and quickly so," EU President Donald Tusk told the European Parliament in Brussels. "This is also why we decided to organize a special meeting with Turkey on March 7."

All 28 EU leaders will attend the meeting and also hold separate talks on ways to preserve Europe's cherished free-travel Schengen area, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker added.

The EU had struck a deal with Turkey in November promising the country 3 billion euros (3.3 billion dollars) in refugee aid and closer ties with the EU, in return for efforts by Ankara to curb the migration flows. But they have shown little sign of abating so far.

"Turkey has to deliver now. It has to unequivocally improve its measures to reduce the refugee flows in Europe's direction," the EU's commissioner for neighbourhood policy, Johannes Hahn, told the German news website Zeit Online.

The country should ensure more efficient border controls in cooperation with Greece and implement "tough and finally effective measures against people smugglers," Hahn said.

Europe saw more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers arrive in 2015, many of them from conflict-torn countries in the Middle East. Another 100,000 have arrived since the beginning of this year.

Last update: Wed, 24/02/2016 - 17:51

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