The agreement to return migrants and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey, which Turkey and EU countries agreed on 18 March, sparked strong criticism from GUE/NGL MEPs during a European Parliament debate this morning, which focused on its legal aspects, implementation and democratic control.

Spanish GUE/NGL MEP, Marina Albiol, said: “The EU-Turkey agreement, which involves thousands of people remaining in Turkey, is inhuman and cruel. This agreement undermines EU standards regarding the return of refugees in the EU to their countries of origin. It undermines our legislation on refugees, the Geneva Convention, the European Charter of Human Rights and a long list of other laws and agreements.”

MEP Albiol mentioned Article 263 of the TFEU which gives the Parliament the possibility to introduce an appeal to the European Court of Justice if EU legislation is not being complied with by the Council. “If we don't do this in this case, then the European Parliament will be an accomplice to the crimes being committed by our governments.”

Addressing Commissioner Timmermans, Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou said he had doubts about the agreement: “You said the agreement is working and that the refugee flows from Turkey to Greece have stopped. My doubt is how has this been achieved now and not before? Is it that Turkey simply pushed Europe into a corner and created problems in order to get it to come up with an agreement?

“We need to deal with the situation and come up with solutions to build up towns and cities in Syria so that refugees have somewhere to go back to.”

For Dutch MEP Dennis De Jong, “There was a time when EU member States were well-respected partners of international organisations. We were proud of our human rights record and we promulgated universal rights, which were also European rights. Now the UNHCR is not happy with our policies and our sister organisation, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, is adopting resolution upon resolution condemning our policy.”

“We are clearly in danger of becoming outlaws of the international community in order to save Schengen. We cannot have illegality in our agreements with Turkey or with anyone else.”

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75

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