EXCLUSIVE / No official decision is expected to be made during an EU-Turkey summit on Monday (7 March) dedicated to the refugee crisis, due to the upcoming German state elections, diplomats told EurActiv Greece.
On 13 March, Germany will hold an election in three of Germany’s 16 regions: Saxony-Anhalt, Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg.
The vote is seen as a first electoral test of Merkel’s immigration policies, as it is expected to measure the rate of confidence in her CDU party and the upsurge of anti-immigration sentiment in German society.
Germany prefers that the EU-Turkey summit remains low-profile and that it doesn’t impact on the vote, EurActiv was told. Consequently the summit of EU leaders with Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoğlu will be an informal meeting, where “no official decision is expected to be made” and no summit conclusions will be adopted.
The EU and Turkey will meet in March to push forward a deal to stem the migration crisis, European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday (18 February).
EU heads of states and government will only discuss and assess the EU-Turkey action plan that was agreed on at the end of November.
A meeting of “like-minded countries” with Davutoğlu initially was supposed to take place on 18-19 February in the Austrian representation of the EU in Brussels, but was postponed to 7 March due to a terrorist attack in Ankara.
Twenty-eight people were killed and dozens wounded in Turkey’s capital Ankara yesterday (17 February) when a car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses near the armed forces’ headquarters, parliament and other government buildings.
Ever since, Austria, has been at odds with Germany, Greece and the European Commission over its own initiatives to tackle the migration crisis, tilting rightwards towards the hard line position taken by Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Tensions reached a boiling point between the European states worst affected by the refugee crisis ahead of a meeting of Balkan states in Vienna today (24 February), as new figures showed no let-up in the influx of asylum seekers.
“It is highly unlikely that the summit will result in a concrete outcome. The meeting is rather meant to pave the way to achieve a broad agreement on migration at the next summit on 17 March,” a diplomatic source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
One of the reasons Merkel could shy away from signing a final agreement between the EU and Turkey is to avoid unnecessary distractions before the crucial regional elections in Germany.
According to an EU diplomat, the result of the EU-Turkey summit will be a written statement in which Ankara will be urged to implement what has already been agreed.
This broad agreement will be specified at the next regular EU summit, scheduled for 17 March.