Juncker: Dutch plan to ship asylum seekers to Turkey "illegal"

According to Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the Netherlands' plan to ship asylum seekers arriving in Greece back to Turkey on a returning ferry is "illegal". The European Union does not participate in "pushing back" asylum seekers, Juncker's spokeswoman said to the Financieele Dagblad.

PvdA leader Diederik Samsom revealed the so-called Samsom-plan on Thursday morning. Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) plans to present it to the EU in the near future. The plan involves sending asylum seekers arriving in Greece back to Turkey within a few days of their arrival. In return Europe will accept between 150 thousand and 250 thousand asylum seekers coming from Turkey legally.

The UN Convention on Refugees states that asylum seekers can only be returned to safe countries. Turkey does not have the "safe" status yet, but Samsom believes it will happen soon.

The plan is getting varying responses in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of Dutch parliament. According to GroenLinks MP Linda Voortman, Turkey is not a safe country yet and the question is whether the country will keep to the agreements, because past experience shows that they will not, AD reports.

SP parliamentarian Sharon Gesthuizen is also concerned about the situation in Turkey. According to her, the country can not improve matters as soon as the plan indicates. She thinks that the asylum seekers will continue to find their own way.

D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma is cautiously positive, but worries about what demands Turkey will make in return, for example an acceleration of their EU membership. The ChristenUnie is also concerned about this.

PVV leader Geert Wilders reacted negatively. "So fortune hunters first sent back to Turkey by boat and then still to Europe and the Netherlands by plane? What a trashy plan", he posted on Twitter. To broadcaster NOS he added that his party still sees closing the borders as the only option. "Zero asylum seekers, that is what the Netherlands needs."