Tweeting from his personal account, European Council President Donald Tusk said that a ‘unanimous agreement’ had been reached. The agreement follows extensive talks between Donald Tusk and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and a subsequent concluding discussion on Friday morning.
Dalia Grybauskaité, President of the Republic of Lithuania, and Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipilä were among the first politicians to endorse the agreement on twitter.
The agreement is set to be implemented on Sunday, and will be signed later today. While the EU has not agreed to any specific demands regarding Turkey’s EU accession, the agreement is expected to allow for the opening of new discussions of Turkey’s EU membership, possibly even before July.
The European Union has also agreed to ratify and hasten the implementation of €3bn (£2.3bn) designated to help pay for projects regarding Syrian refugees in Turkey.
On behalf of Turkey, the agreement holds that Turkey has promised to ensure that returning refugees with be treated according to the standards of international law, which implies that they will not be forced to return to their countries of original until the cessation of ongoing conflicts.
The most controversial element of the deal, the ‘one-for-one’ principle under which for every Syrian returned to Turkey, the EU will provide asylum for a Syrian refugee currently in Turkey, is expected to have remained part of the agreement. The program only covers up to 72,000 refugees however and new arrangements will be needed if the number is exceeded.
Over a million refugees have reached Europe since the crisis began; with 132,000 arriving this year alone. EU officials expect the deal to significantly reduce the number of migrants entering Greece from Turkey however analysts have claimed that flaws in the plan as well as a lack of commitment from Turkey will make it largely ineffective.
The deal has attracted widespread criticism from human rights organizations who have expressed anger with the EU for abandoning their core values and legal obligations to refugees and also questioned the concept of Turkey as a ‘safe third country’.
In response to these criticisms, Tusk has stated that any removals of migrants and refugees would be “in full compliance with international and EU law” and that there won’t be “collective expulsions.”