BRUSSELS – Europe’s refugee crisis is far from solved, but there are signs that the agreement finalized by the European Union and Turkey on March 18 is reducing the flow of refugees and migrants from Turkey to Greece. According to Frontex, the European border-management agency, the 26,460 migrants detected crossing the EU’s external borders in the eastern Mediterranean in March amounted to less than half the figure recorded in February.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has already declared that the deal, whereby the EU pays Turkey billions of euros to shut down the Turkey-Greece migratory route, is “producing results.” Many EU governments are breathing a sigh of relief. The flows of refugees on this route may well have been stemmed.
But at what price?
Turkey and the EU are now working together closely to execute the agreement, yet relations between them are increasingly strained. And the deal’s legitimacy and legality has rightly faced a wave of skepticism from NGOs, charities, and human-rights lawyers. As the agreement is implemented, a number of flashpoints are already foreseeable.