EU: Sweden cannot relocate refugees
The EU will not grant Sweden’s request for a migrant swap deal, according to a relocation scheme to be discussed and cemented at a Brussels summit this week.
European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair the summit of 28 EU leaders on Thursday and Friday, distributed the tentative agreement to EU leaders on Wednesday.
Swedish Radio has seen the internal document, which states clearly that the refugee relocation target of 54,000 will not apply to Sweden. Instead, the EU plans to relocate refugees from Greece to Turkey.
Speaking before Swedish Parliament's Committee on European Union Affairs Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said he was satisfied with the draft deal but called it "not optimal" for Sweden.
At last week’s summit in Brussels, Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, showed up with fresh demands, asking the EU to double the funds granted in a previous deal to help solve the refugee crisis. Under the new deal, Turkey will be granted those additional funds, which amount to a total of EUR 6 billion.
The flow of people into northern Europe has been stemmed as eastern European countries have effectively shut down the Balkans route with coordinated border closures. At the same time, this has caused a bottleneck of more than 40,000 migrants in Greece.
Under a proposal by German chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkey would take back thousands of refugees who have entered Greece. An equivalent number of refugees would eventually be resettled from camps in Turkey to the EU.
The draft deal which Tusk sent to EU leaders states that Turkey would be allowed to send staff to the offices in Greece that handle asylum applications from refugees wishing to settle in EU member states.
Ahead of the Brussels summit, Cyprus had demanded access to Turkish harbours and airports – today it is not possible to fly directly from Cyprus to Turkey – and Bulgaria has expressed concern over refugees taking the Black Sea route as the Balkans route becomes inaccessible to them. Bulgaria has asked the EU for assistance to help the country handle the situation.