Pittella: Positive first step but questions remain over EU-Turkey deal. The key is creating a functional relocation system
Following the agreement hammered out in the Council between the 28 member states and Turkey over the migration crisis, the Socialists and Democrats Group leader, Gianni Pittella, stated:
"The agreement with Turkey is a positive step that must be welcomed. The current version of the deal has been improved, thanks to the pressure put on the Council by the European Parliament and the S&D Group. However, it still raises doubts and concerns regarding the complicated practical implementation involved but also regarding its legality under international human rights conventions.
"Firstly, we expect extensive financial, logistic aid and expertise to be granted to Greece in order to run a proper hosting and registration system. We cannot turn Greece into a huge migration camp. Secondly, we will keep a close eye to ensure that international and European human rights conventions are respected. Moreover, the S&D Group strongly believes that the visa-free entry regime to Turkish citizens should be granted only if and when the 72 outlined benchmarks are met.
"The Turkish EU accession process - in which we believe - cannot be turned into a bargaining chip for Turkey in dealing with the refugee crisis. No trade off can be allowed here.
"Even the opening of a new chapter is not a blank check for the Turkish government. Turkey must comply fully with the Ankara Protocol concerning the Republic of Cyprus.
"The deal with Turkey is a part of the solution, not the solution itself. We firmly believe that only by implementing the relocation system, reinforcing Schengen and by reviewing the Dublin agreement, will Europe finally be capable of resolving the migration crisis in the long term. The EU is first and foremost a family based on solidarity."