The EU and Turkey have finally inked an accord on how to control the numbers of migrants arriving in the bloc through the Greek islands.
After three summits and months of legal wrangling and political horse-trading, Turkey has said it will take back all illegal Syrian migrants arriving in Greece after midnight Sunday.
In exchange, EU leaders offered Turkey money to support Syrian refugees on its territory, visa-free access to the bloc from July and the partial unblocking of Ankara’s stalled EU membership talks by June.
As part of the deal, the EU will take in one legally registered Syrian refugee for every illegal migrant Turkey takes back, up to a maximum of 72,000, and only for a limited time.
Once flows to the Greek islands are “substantially and sustainably reduced”, EU leaders said they would look at resettling more Syrian refugees, but only on a voluntary basis.
Ireland will not take in any extra people as part of the deal, Enda Kenny confirmed yesterday, and will stick to a September 2015 pledge to rehouse 4,000 people from within and outside the EU.
However, he said he would consider “what, if any” help Ireland could offer Greece in terms of personnel to process asylum seekers that have already arrived on its shores.