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Expectations Remain To Be Met In EU-Turkey Refugee Pact

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European data show key commitments remain unfulfilled

After the anniversary of a 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey over refugees, a number of key European commitments remain unfulfilled.

The March 2016 EU-Turkey Statement envisaged a “one for one” formula under which failed asylum seekers in Europe would be returned to Turkey while Syrian refugees would be resettled in EU states under a quota system.

However, a report published by the European Commission earlier this month revealed the numbers promised in the EU-Turkey Statement have not been realized.

Turkey also remains unhappy at a failure to introduce visa liberalization for its citizens, plus a lack of delivery on funding commitments by Europe for the welfare of refugees.

According to the March 2 report, only 3,565 Syrian migrants were relocated to Europe from Turkey. This number fell well behind of a maximum 72,000 migrants expected to have been relocated to Europe under the 18 March 2016 statement.

Another part of the 18 March statement was the granting of visa-free travel to Europe’s Schengen zone to Turkish citizens by the end of June 2016.

According to the March 2 report, Ankara needs to fulfill seven outstanding criteria out of a total of 72, including "revising legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards".

In terms of financial help, a commitment to send €3 billion ($3.2 billion) in project-based funding for Syrian refugees in Turkey has also fallen short of expectations.

However, according to the European Commission report the total amount disbursed so far has only reached €750 million.

Another element of the overall package -- negotiations to create an updated customs union between the EU and Turkey -- also remains unrealized.

Despite this, irregular crossings of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece fell by 97 percent in 2016 compared to the April- Dec. 2015 period, according to data from the UNHCR.

According to Greek government data, since 4 April 2016 only 916 refugees were sent back to Turkey.

The evaluation process of asylum applications made in Greece has been widely criticized for being too slow. The Greek authorities say support from the EU has been inadequate.

According to Greek Interior Ministry statistics, there are over 14,000 refugees on the Greek islands. Refugee camps on these islands only have the capacity to shelter 7,500 people.

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