BRUSSELS The European Union, anxious to avoid any repetition of the migratory chaos of 2015-2016, is struggling to react after Turkey has declared that it will no longer respect a 2016 agreement under which it prevented refugees and migrants from heading to Europe.
Here are the options of the block as the last escalation of the war in Syria revives migratory concerns in Europe.
* GIVE MORE TURKEY MONEY?
The bloc reached an agreement with Turkey in March 2016 offering 6 billion euros ($ 6.6 billion) in exchange for Ankara preventing refugees and migrants on its territory from leaving for Turkey. ;Europe.
The deal has since reduced the number of EU arrivals from Turkey to a net and the bloc has already stated that it is determined to maintain the regime with Ankara, which means that more money could be on the cards.
This could however be difficult to sell among the 27 EU member states, at a time when they are fighting over their next long-term budget from 2021.
* EXPRESS SUPPORT AT THE HEART OF THE TENTS
European Council President Charles Michel on Saturday called on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to express solidarity with Ankara after an air raid by Syrian government forces backed by Russia killed more than 30 Turkish soldiers last week.
But the fact that the declaration came from Michel, rather than from the 27 EU countries, already highlights the divisions within the bloc over the agreement of a common line on Turkey.
The bloc's ties to Ankara have been strained since Erdogan orchestrated a radical crackdown on dissent in Turkey following a botched coup d'etat against him in 2016.
Most recently, the EU has imposed sanctions on Turkey for oil drilling off Cyprus, and Ankara's relations with EU member Greece are strained in the best case.
Greece and Turkey share a border and have already traded against the growing tensions at the border where refugees and migrants have started arriving in large numbers in recent days.
* STRENGTHEN HUMANITARIAN AID
Michel from the EU has already suggested that the bloc is ready to step up its humanitarian support to the north-western region of Syria's Idlib, one of the last rebel-held areas supported by the rebels by Turkey who are fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sponsored by Moscow.
* HELP GREECE AND BULGARIA AT THE BORDERS
The bloc's executive body, the European Commission, called for an emergency meeting of EU migration ministers and said it was ready to hire its Frontex border agency to help control the bloc's external border with Turkey in Greece and Bulgaria.
In 2015-2016, Greece was overwhelmed with massive arrivals and let many people pass by from other EU countries. Other EU member states have responded by re-establishing border controls inside what is normally the block's free movement area to prevent uncontrolled movement of people.
The area of free movement is a key achievement of European integration. The bloc wants to avoid a further collapse of the system and does not want to reignite bitter quarrels between the EU member states over who is responsible for the arrival of refugees and migrants.
* INCREASE POLITICAL PRESSURE
Turkey's decision to open the European route to refugees and migrants, in reaction to the Idlib strike, was seen in Brussels as an effort to drag the bloc into the situation and get support for Turkey against Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron can meet Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Idlib on March 5.
German and French leaders – as well as the head of NATO – have already expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Idlib and called for an end to the conflict.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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