The European Union's Refugee Deal with Turkey: A Risky Alliance Contrary to European Laws and Values

By Schoenhuber, Manuel P. | Houston Journal of International Law, Spring 2018 | Go to article overview

The European Union's Refugee Deal with Turkey: A Risky Alliance Contrary to European Laws and Values


Schoenhuber, Manuel P., Houston Journal of International Law


  I. INTRODUCTION  II. BACKGROUND      A. The European Union      B. The Republic of Turkey      C. Promises of Accession      D. The European Refugee Crisis III. ANALYSIS      A. Contemporary EU Laws on Migration      B. The European Union's Refugee Deal with Turkey      C. Legal and Human Rights Concerns Associated with         the Refugee Deal         1. Collective Expulsion Is Illegal Under EU and            International Law         2. The EU Directive on Common Standards and            Procedures in Member States for Returning            Illegally Staying Third-Country Nationals            Requires a Case-by-Case Analysis Regarding            Immigration of Illegal Migrants That Goes            Beyond the Mere Fact of an Illegal Stay         3. The Refugee Deal Encourages Refugee            Bartering Contrary to European Values         4. Turkey is not a "Safe" Country and Ignores Non-Refoulement            Requirements         5. Anti-Democratic Movements in Turkey Change            Commonalities Between Both Parties to the            Refugee Deal      D. The Refugee Deal in Action  IV. CONCLUSION 

I. INTRODUCTION

These words, famously proclaimed by the American lawyer Johnnie Cochran, accurately portray contemporary concerns about the approach taken by European political leaders in an effort to maneuver the refugee crisis of the European Union ("EU" or "Union"). The refugee crisis is arguably one of the most critical challenges the EU has been confronted with in its young history, and, therefore, requires special attention and altered decisionmaking authority. In the wake of such a historical challenge, we must nonetheless never forget that EU laws on immigration, refugees, and asylum are proclaimed in accordance with widely accepted humanitarian and fairness standards set forth by the international community. I urge that, when addressing the refugee crisis, these standards must always be at the heart of the Union's coordinated endeavor to ease the burden on its member states. Thus, in this comment, I address the landmark agreement concerning the refugee crisis, which seems to not only bypass EU laws in order to provide a relief valve for political pressure, but also to contradict the European understanding of democratic and humanitarian values: the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal of 2016 ("Refugee Deal").

In Section II, I provide a general overlook about the organization and purpose of the European Union, the history and political system of the Republic of Turkey, Turkey's long-standing pursuit of joining the European Union as a fully recognized member state, and the European refugee crisis.

First, I am concerned with the structure of the European Union as an economic and political union of twenty-eight European countries adhering to agreed-upon treaties. (2) Of special importance is the notion that all member countries must adhere to the Union's shared core values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and respect for human rights. (3)

The Republic of Turkey, the other party to the Refugee Deal, was founded on a democratic, secular, and parliamentary system. (4) Turkey has often been referenced as Europe's gateway to Asia. (5) Turkey's geography is of particular significance in relation to the Refugee Deal because the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey into Greece is the main source of maritime arrivals of refugees coming from Syria. (6) Today, Turkey is a major force in international trade, transportation, and logistics. (7) Even though Turkey is still not a member to the Union, the EU has always considered Turkey a European country. (8) Given Turkey's long path to potential EU membership, it is important to evaluate continued, yet unconsummated, promises of accession extended by the European community to Turkey as an indicator of adverse bargaining positions and unequal bargaining power during the negotiation process of the Refugee Deal.

Turkey joined the Council of Europe in 1949 and, when Turkey officially applied tor hill membership to the European Union in 1987, a strenuous process of potential accession began to unfold. …

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