The European Commission today (21 March) knocked back questions over the morality of the EU’s deal with Turkey, which will see a controversial swap of so-called irregular migrants in Greece with asylum seekers in Turkey.
The plan, agreed last week by EU leaders at their Brussels summit, was blasted by campaigners such as Amnesty International. They branded it “a historic blow to human rights”.
The executive was asked how it planned to repair its international reputation and regain the perceived loss of its moral authority.
Chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said, “The Commission cannot allow itself to become a commentator of reality.
“We have to make this work because this is a unanimous agreement of our 28 heads of state and government and we are central in making this work.”
He added, “We don’t have time for comments, we don’t have time for the sort of questions you are asking us.”
The Commission had said, in effect, that it was only following the orders of the European Council.
Flimsy boats packed with refugees continued to land in Greece from Turkey yesterday (20 March), despite the start of a landmark deal between the European Union and Ankara to stem the massive influx.
Iverna McGowan, head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, told EurActiv, “The hard reality is that this shameless deal has dealt a severe blow to both the European Union and member states’ role as actors and defenders of international law and human rights on the world stage.
“Making some of the world’s most vulnerable people the victims of a morally repugnant political deal with a country whose own domestic human rights situation is spiralling downwards is simply indefensible.”
The stonewalling also drew criticism from other journalists on social media.
.@JamesCrisp6 Interesting how quickly the Political Presidency becomes a mere administrator when the going gets sticky.
— Matthew Holehouse (@mattholehouse) March 21, 2016
The Juncker Commission promised to be a more “political” administration when it took over power.
All migrants and refugees arriving in Greece from this Sunday (20 March) will be returned to Turkey, under a controversial agreement hammered out over two days between the EU and Ankara at a summit in Brussels.