EU and Turkey to hold migration summit

Media captionDonald Tusk said an EU action plan on the migration crisis was a “priority”

The EU is to hold a special summit with Turkey on the migration crisis in early March, officials have announced.

“The EU-Turkey action plan is our priority,” European Council President Donald Tusk said after late-night talks at an EU gathering in Brussels.

The EU has pledged €3bn (£2.3bn; $3.3bn) to Turkey in return for housing refugees on its territory.

More than a million people arrived in the EU in 2015, creating Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

On Thursday, about 900 migrants were rescued near the Greek island of Lesbos, the EU border agency Frontex said.

‘Clear danger’

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Tusk said a “European consensus” on how to tackle the crisis was needed.

“We must do all we can to succeed. This is why we have the intention to organise a special meeting with Turkey at the beginning of March,” he said.

Mr Tusk said he would now hold a series of bilateral meetings with EU leaders to further discuss the issue.

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Image caption

About 900 migrants were rescued near the Greek island of Lesbos on Thursday

Echoing his words, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU-Turkey action plan “is something we will be concentrating on”.

She said the number of migrants trying to reach Europe had dropped in recent months, but warned that there was a “clear danger” of a new influx in the spring because of warmer weather.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had been expected to take part in the Brussels’ summit on Thursday – but he had to cancel his trip due to a deadly bomb attack in Ankara.

Media captionThe BBC’s Bethany Bell reports from Austria’s Spielfeld border control centre

Turkey is home to nearly three million refugees, most of them from Syria.

Many of them pay smugglers thousands of dollars to make the crossing to Greece. They then head north, trying to reach Germany and Scandinavia.

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A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.


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