Georgieva and Bozkir Say Completed EU-Turkey Deal Overdue
~ Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions Speaking on Countering Terrorism, Sunday~
BRUSSELS (March 19, 2016) – On the second day of The German Marshall Fund's 11th Brussels Forum, Kristalina Georgieva, current vice president and commissioner for budget with the European Commission, explained some of the rationale behind the EU’s recent deal with Turkey regarding migrants and refugees.
“In this deal, we recognize that unless we collectively battle the interests of the traffickers, unless we make it possible for people to come legally, they will continue to struggle to come illegally,” the former commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid, and crisis response said. “Turkey deserves to be supported financially because it is the biggest refugee receiving country, and it has done a very good job to host people fleeing primarily from the Syria war.”
Georgieva spoke at Brussels Forum, an annual conference on transatlantic relations organized by The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and attended by heads of state, officials from the EU institutions and member states, U.S. officials, congressional representatives, parliamentarians, and academics.
Speaking on the same panel, Volkan Bozkir, Turkey’s minister for EU affairs and chief negotiator, bemoaned the fact that this deal took so long to agree upon.
“Turkey was saying two things and warning about two dangers. One was the fight against terrorism and one was this illegal migration,” he said. “If we had worked together two years ago when we first warned, it would have been much easier to face this.”
Georgieva also expressed concern about the larger problems of refugees and other humanitarian crises around the globe. “If we don't draw a lesson that we have to invest much more in these situations of fragility elsewhere, and that we have to come up with a sustained, predictable, long-term commitment to fund people that are affected by these disasters to give them not only food, but hope,” she continued. “If we draw any conclusion in Europe today, it has to be never to move our eyes from the suffering of people that creates instability that sooner or later we also will pay for.”
Bozkir issues a final warning about extreme reactions to the migration crisis. “This is a wonderful mechanism—Europe, European Union, the Schengen system. Until we lose those, people will not understand how much comfort and pleasure they are bringing to them,” he said.
He explained that Turkey has a vibrant economy so “we will take some of the burden from Europe.” He continued, saying that if work visas in the EU are strictly enforced for Turkish citizens then, “we will perhaps have to think about limiting European Union citizens coming into Turkey to find jobs.”
On a later panel discussing the economic impacts of the migration crisis, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, president of the International Crisis Group, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the EU-Turkey deal. “It's obvious that the real solution is really in addressing the Syrian situation and bringing peace to Syria. So long as you don't do that you are not going to stem the flow of refugees with any deal,” he said. “Europe has to get used to the idea that the issue of migration is here to stay.”
Wilfried Porth, member of the board of management at Daimler AG, said that political leaders could help in the adjustment process by reducing regulations on hiring migrants. “Politicians could really help in taking bureaucracy away,” he said. “We still have rules wherein the first 15 months they are not allowed to work even if we provide them workplaces or apprenticeships and so on. So there's so many basic things which could be done in order to speed up the integration.”
On a later panel about global shifts in reaction to China’s economic growth, the discussants explored the implications of the potential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on China. Masafumi Ishii, the Japanese ambassador to Belgium and representative to NATO, said, “TPP is not building a wall against China. Quite the contrary. From now on, we will proceed and ask China to be part of [TPP] again and again.”
Also on the subject of trade agreements, Pascal Lamy, president emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute and former director-general of the World Trade Organization, said that one reason that some are worried about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is that they think it is like TPP, but that it isn’t.
“Morocco, when it exports phosphates to the EU, has to match the EU standard for quality phosphates,” he explained. “When Morocco exports phosphates to the U.S., it has to match the U.S. standard for quality phosphates. It happens that the EU standard and the U.S. standard are different, which is a cost to an efficient Moroccan phosphate producer. The moment the EU and U.S. will agree on a single phosphate standard is good news for Morocco.”
In the day’s final session, on the new digital technologies, Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, president of EMEA strategic relationships with Google, disagreed with talk of an old economy versus a new economy. “There is only one economy,” he said. “You can be user-oriented or not. If you are user-oriented, you survive, and if you are not user-oriented, you do not survive — you don’t deserve it.”
Speaking during the same session, Estonian President Toomas Ilves explained that the big challenge facing Europe in becoming a leader in the technology sector is regulation. “The real problem is not that you start with laws and you end up with digitization but that today the legal environment offered in Europe is hindering development,” he said. “At the European level, we are persisting in a Luddite approach to things, trying to restrict the use of technology.”
Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting of the most influential U.S., European, and global political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic. With over 50 countries represented and more than 400 attendees, the 11th annual Brussels Forum include heads of state, senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, U.S. government officials and Congressional representatives, parliamentarians, academics, and media. GMF is delighted to be joined in this initiative by its Founding Partners, Daimler and the Federal Authorities of Belgium. We also extend our thanks to Deloitte as Strategic Partner; BP, UPS, Google, and the OCP Policy Center as Forum Partners; the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, the Brussels Capital Region, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia, NATO, and the Wilfried Martens Centre as Associate Partners; European Investment Bank, Elnet, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, IBM, Intel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, and Solvay as Dinner Partners; and the United States Mission to the EU and EMC as Partners for Brussels Forum’s Young Professionals Summit.
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