The European Refugee Crisis, the Balkan Route and the EU-Turkey Deal

The European Refugee Crisis, the Balkan Route and the EU-Turkey Deal

Sep 20, 2016 by Bodo Weber
Democratization Policy Council
Place of Publication: Berlin
Date of Publication: September 2016
Number of Pages: 59
License: CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
Language of Publication: English

Over the course of 2015, an estimated 1.5 million people – the bulk of them refugees from Syria – made their way from Greece to Western Europe via the Balkan route. The shift to this previously marginal route for irregular entry of refugees and migrants into the EU led to the collapse of the EU’s external border in the Aegean and turned the long-standing problem of the EU’s deficient common asylum policy, which disproportionately affected the southern member states, into a full-fledged crisis.

This crisis was of the EU’s own making and could have been avoided with sufficient political will. If the international community had fully funded UNHCR’s Syria refugee response plan rather than providing just 35% of the requested budget in 2015, and if a few EU member states had been willing to resettle 2-300,000 Syrians from Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, the EU most probably would not have seen more asylum-seekers in 2015 than in previous years.