The reality of the EU-Turkey Statement

How Greece has become a testing ground for policies that erode protection for refugees

Publication date: 17 March 2017
Author: Ashleigh Lovett (IRC), Claire Whelan (NRC), Renata Rendón (Oxfam)

One year ago, European states closed their borders along the Western Balkan route and EU leaders put in place the EU-Turkey Statement, a so-called temporary measure to stop irregular migration to Europe. Now EU leaders are declaring their approach a success.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and Oxfam are providing humanitarian response on the Greek islands and mainland, and as their experience clearly shows, the context on the ground is far more troubling and complex. Beyond the deeply concerning situation in Greece, the EU is looking to replicate the EU-Turkey Statement model elsewhere, and in so doing, risks setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of the world.

The EU has a proud history of commitment to international law and human rights which has driven its policies for 60 years. This joint agency paper argues that now is the time for Europe to show global leadership on migration by adopting policies that uphold these values, rather than triggering a race to the bottom.