Under the deal brokered on Monday, the EU would pay another tranche of money to help Turkey deal with its refugee crisis in return for a series of measures that includes the EU sending "irregular migrants" from Greece back to Turkey, in return for the EU taking in Syrian refugees in Turkey on a one-for-one basis, which many believe goes against international law.
The UN High commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi told European lawmakers in Strasbourg:
"As a first reaction I'm deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law."
European Parliament lawmakers Wednesday demanded more details of the deal struck by EU leaders, 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 liberalization for Turkish nationals traveling to the EU should not be linked to the refugee issue.
The deal with Turkey also included the acceleration of the visa-free access to the EU for all Turkish citizens — allowing them freedom to roam Europe for up to 90 days without a visa — as well as the speeding-up of Turkey's accession to become a member of the EU, which many member states object to on the grounds of Turkey's human rights record and crackdown on the media.
Spoke at European Parliament: management of refugee flows is essential but can't be at expense of refugee protection https://t.co/HtihMyocOf— Filippo Grandi (@RefugeesChief) March 8, 2016
Dutch lawmaker Sophie in 't Veld said Wednesday:
"This EU-Turkey summit just shows the weakness of the EU. It's legally dubious and morally unworthy. Who wants to invest in an EU that is falling apart?"
Marie-Christine Vergiat, for the Confederal Group of the European United Left, said: "I've just come back from Turkey and what I heard over there is something that I cannot understand. Journalists who are gagged, same for lawyers, terrorism accusations and, of course, the whole issue of the south east. There is a lot of abuse going on and the images that I've seen remind me of the war in Syria, rather than a democratic country.
"Is this the country that we want to run our migratory policies? We need a safe country. Turkey has, in fact, created the crisis that we have now in Europe. They are blackmailing Europe and it's working. We need to put an end to this. I am ashamed. Europe is losing its soul on this matter."
Nigel Farage, of the UK Independence Party said:
"We're embarked on a course of almost unbelievable stupidity. The historic error made by Chancellor [Angela] Merkel last year by saying 'all can come' has led directly to this mess. And now we're being blackmailed by Turkey. First they came for US$3.35 billion in a promise to reduce the numbers coming into Greece and the rest of Europe. When the numbers increased many fold, they came back for another US$3.35 billion and they will keep on coming back for more and more and more."
"Now they've got us over a barrel. This new deal, where — for every one illegal migrant we send back, if our human rights laws allow it — they'll send us another one back from Syria. So the argument is: we paid them a fortune not to reduce numbers and yet we've given in and we [have agreed] visa-free access for 75 million Turks from June this year. In theory they can stay for 90 days.
"In practice many will disappear or claim family reunion. The numbers will go sharply up. And in return for all of this we're going to fast-track Turkey as a full member of the European Union. My goodness me, I wish that [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron was as good at negotiations as the Turks are," said Farage.