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.
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.
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.
“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.