Avramopoulos: EU-Turkey Deal Reduced Migrant Arrivals in Greece by 97%

The European Commission claims that the bloc’s migrant agreement with Turkey is working well, but that more effort is needed to speed asylum applications.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday that “the EU-Turkey statement continues to work and deliver results.”

He said migrant arrivals in Greece from Turkey had dropped 97% since the deal in March of 2016, and that more than 8,800 Syrians in Turkey had now found homes in Europe.

But the Commission says “significant additional efforts” are needed to cut the asylum application backlog and improve processing in Greece, so more people can be returned to Turkey.

Turkey has agreed to stem migrant departures for Greece in return for fast-track EU membership talks, visa-free travel for Turkish systems and at least 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees there.

And yet, the ongoing political turmoil in Turkey, doubled by the duel between Turkish president Erdogan and German chancellor Angela Merkel has caused some concern about the future of the deal.