Breathing space: the impact of the EU-Turkey deal on irregular migration

The EU-Turkey deal is in danger of collapsing – but is there an alternative?

The €6billion agreement reached between the European Union (EU) and Turkey on migration achieved a dramatic drop in the number of crossings and stopped a fast-growing criminal industry in its tracks. But smugglers interviewed for this paper are watching closely for signs of a change of tack, and not without reason. The Erdogan administration has been progressively at odds with the EU as it finds itself hemmed in by growing internal dissent, multiple terror threats and a failing economy. The breathing space provided by the arrangement is running out and the EU does not seem to have a credible alternative in the event of a collapse.

About the authors

Tuesday Reitano is deputy director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and a senior research consultant for the Institute for Security Studies. Tuesday has extensive experience as a policy specialist for the UN. She serves as an independent expert to the EU on human smuggling, is the lead author of a 2016 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study on the smuggling of migrants from Africa to Europe; and co-author with Peter Tinti of Refugee, migrant, smuggler, saviour, a book that documents the human smuggling industry behind Europe’s migration crisis. Tuesday is based in Beirut.

Mark Micallef is executive director of Migrant Report, a non-profit project designed to investigate and document migratory flows and smuggling networks. The NGO is involved in grounded research in Libya, Turkey, Greece, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mark has been engaged with African migration to Europe for more than a decade as a journalist, news editor and researcher. He has reported extensively on the subject from Libya, Malta, Turkey, Brussels and Italy, carrying out investigations, analysis and extensive interviews with politicians, stakeholders, asylum-seekers and smugglers. He is based in Malta.

Other publications in the ISS Migration series:

The Khartoum Process: A sustainable response to human smuggling and trafficking?

At the edge: trends and routes of North African clandestine migrants

The Niger-Libya corridor: smugglers' perspectives

Development partners
This brief was made possible with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The Institute for Security Studies is grateful for support from the other members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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