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2021 MEDAM Assessment Report

The EU and Turkey: Toward sustainable cooperation in migration management and refugee protection

Migration / 2021 MEDAM Assessment Report
Alberto-Horst Neidhardt , Olivia Sundberg Diez , Matthias Lücke , Martin Ruhs , Saime Özçürümez

Date: 28/05/2021
The New Pact on Migration and Asylum, the von der Leyen Commission’s proposal for a new consensus on EU migration and asylum policies, will not resolve pre-existing political divisions within the EU over solidarity or the management of the Union’s external borders. That is one of the main conclusions of the 2021 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe "The EU and Turkey: Toward sustainable cooperation in migration management and refugee protection".

Based on a detailed analysis of the New Pact and the negotiations so far, the report concludes that the new proposals are highly complex and interdependent, raising the stakes should one of their elements fail. Other than rebuilding mutual trust, authors argue that the EU should focus on the future implementation, monitoring, and financing requirements of the complex package of proposals on the table. With regard to cooperation with non-EU countries, the analysis suggests the EU and member states should consider the interests and constraints faced by partner states, warning that the EU’s ambition to substantially increase returns may be unrealistic.

The report also presents new data and research to inform ongoing policy debates about how to reform EU-Turkey cooperation on irregular migration and refugee protection. The authors discuss current challenges and opportunities for future cooperation — focusing on the EU-Turkey Statement, which was agreed between the EU and Turkey in 2016 and remains the basis for policy cooperation on migration.

Among others, the report finds that voters in Germany, Greece, and Turkey – the three countries centrally affected by the cooperation – support several core elements of the existing agreement. These include financial support for refugee protection in Turkey, resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU, and continued cooperation on reducing irregular arrivals. At the same time, the report finds strong public opposition to ‘pushbacks’, i.e. the return of irregular migrants to Turkey without first assessing their applications for asylum.

The Mercator Dialogue on Migration and Asylum (MEDAM) is a research and consultation project that identifies and closes the gaps in existing research and develops research-based solutions for asylum and immigration policies, addressing the most pressing concerns of policymakers from an independent European perspective. The Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) and the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence have been research partners in MEDAM since the project started. The European Policy Centre (EPC) joined MEDAM at the beginning of 2020. The 2021 MEDAM Assessment Report was first published on the MEDAM website.

Read the full paper here.
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