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Statement by Prime Minister Mark Rutte after EU-Turkey summit

On Monday 7 March, Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended the EU summit with Turkey to discuss the migration crisis.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte

Prime Minister Mark Rutte

Stemming migrant flows, ending people smuggling

‘In talks with Turkey we are constantly looking for the best way of stemming the flow of migrants travelling to Europe. Those talks haven’t yet ended, but important steps were taken last night. The aim is twofold: firstly to reduce the number of migrants entering Greece from Turkey – preferably heading towards zero. That is certainly also important with a view to the peak expected this spring. And we want to smash the business model used by people smugglers. We need to put a stop to this irregular, unchecked influx.’

Turkey-Greece summit

‘Today Turkey has committed to taking back all migrants who do not need international protection. In other words, those people who are not admitted to the asylum procedure. That is a concrete achievement of this summit, and one which will help our efforts to resolve the crisis. Tomorrow Turkey and Greece have a joint summit in Izmir, in order to give shape to this aim.’

Turkey prepared to take back all migrants

‘Turkey is prepared to do more. In essence, the plan by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey, is that Turkey is prepared to take back all migrants, both Syrians and non-Syrians. In return, the European Union would commit to admitting one Syrian directly from Turkey for each one returned from Greece. This will mean that a Syrian who makes the sea crossing will be sent back to Turkey and go to the bottom of the list of those who might at some stage qualify for regulated admission to the European Union. This will make it exceedingly unattractive to make the crossing, and the expectation is that the entire influx of migrants from Turkey will dry up.’

Plan to be fleshed out before 17 March

‘The good news is that all colleagues in the European Council want to flesh out the plan before our next meeting on 17 March. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council will take the lead in this. As holder of the EU presidency, the Netherlands will also be involved,’ Prime Minister Rutte wrote on his Facebook page.