At their meeting on 17- 18 March, EU leaders discussed further steps to address the migration crisis and EU-Turkey cooperation. They also held a debate the economic situation and on climate and energy.
On 18 March, EU leaders met with their Turkish counterpart, Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmed Davutoğlu. They reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration via Turkey to Europe, breaking the business model of smugglers and offering migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk.
To achieve their goals, EU and Turkish leaders agreed on a series of actions points:
"We needed to ensure that each and every migrant arriving in Europe will be treated individually. In other words, that our agreement complies with all EU and international laws."
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
EU leaders and Turkey also agreed to accelerate the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap, with a view to lifting visa requirements for Turkish citizens by end of June 2016 at the latest, if all benchmarks have been met. They reconfirmed their commitment to re-energise the accession process as set out in the joint statement of 29 November 2015. They agreed, as a next step, to open chapter 33 during the Netherlands presidency.
The European Council further discussed and confirmed its comprehensive strategy to tackle the migration crisis. They called for:
EU leaders reaffirmed their support to Jordan and Lebanon and called for strengthened cooperation with the Western Balkans counties.
The European Council discussed the economic situation. In the context of the 2016 European Semester, the EU leaders endorsed the policy priority areas of the Annual Growth Survey:
EU leaders also discussed the difficult situation in the steel sector and in agriculture, notably in the dairy and pig meat sectors. They welcomed the intention of the Commission to publish a communication on an action plan on VAT.
The European Council welcomed the submission by the Commission of the package on energy security. It underlined the EU's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically and to increase the share of renewable energies and improve energy efficiency as agreed by the European Council in October 2014. Adapting the legislation to implement this framework is a priority. EU leaders look forward to the signature of the Paris Agreement in New York on 22 April and its entry into force.