Turkey deal means asylum seekers to Netherlands will drop by half

Klaas Dijkhoff (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Klaas Dijkhoff (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

The asylum agreement between Turkey and the European Union must halve the number of asylum seekers coming to the Netherlands. If that does not happen, other alternatives will be looked at, State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff said to the lower house of Dutch parliament on Wednesday, news wire ANP reports.

European leaders met with Turkish leaders in Brussels this week to discuss this agreement. 

The agreement states that asylum seekers arriving in Greece will be taken back to Turkey, much like what PvdA leader Diederik Samsom suggested last month. From there they can apply to be transferred to an EU country. According to Dijkhoff, this will lead to a "drastic decline in the number of asylum seekers" in the EU. He added that it is difficult to mention actual numbers, since this will also depend on what other EU countries agree to taking in asylum seekers.

The details of the agreement must still be worked out, Dijkhoff said. For example, it is still unclear whether asylum seekers arriving in Greece will be sent back immediately.

In exchange for this, Turkey want wants visa-free travel to Europe for Turks and accelerated negotiations for the country to join the EU. The visa requirement will be abolished in June, Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign affairs told parliament. "This especially requires a commitment from Turkey", he said. The Turks must meet dozens of requirements before that date, including the introduction of biometric passports.

The PvdA and VVD are positive about the plan. The SP, D66 and ChristenUnie are concerned. The PVV and Groep Bontes/Van Klaveren are against the agreement.