Growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus in Europe have fuelled concerns about both uncontrolled human movement and conditions in migrant camps, with a case of COVID-19 disease diagnosed on March 9 in a camp on Lesvos. Some European politicians have referred to viral concerns to justify calls for a hardening of border police, including the suspension of asylum rights. Relations between the EU and Turkey have dissipated for more than a decade. The stalemate on the border between Greece and Turkey reveals the shortcomings of its increasingly transactional commitment. Brussels and Ankara need to establish a better relationship that benefits both sides, starting with the revision of the 2016 migration agreement. The humanitarian crisis in Idlib increases the urgency of the task, as neither side wants to deal with a new influx of impoverished Syrians, many of whom will seek ways to reach Europe. For European states, the agreement had clear advantages: it outsourced their borders and reduced the number of refugees who would arrive in their countries. However, it had adverse effects on thousands of refugees and, in practice, violated international law and refugee protection standards. Since then, thousands of people have been abandoned throughout Europe in inappropriate and hostile living conditions, without access to adequate physical, psychological and legal support. On 19 April 2016, Jean-Claude Juncker declared that Turkey had to fulfil the remaining criteria to obtain visa-free Schengen.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, however, said Turkey would not support the EU-Turkey deal if the EU did not weaken visa requirements by June 2016. [72] In May 2016, the European Commission declared that Turkey met most of the 72 visa-free criteria and invited the bloc`s EU legislative bodies to approve the step towards visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the Schengen area by 30 June 2016. [73] The European Parliament would have to authorise the visa waiver in order for it to enter into force and Turkey must fulfil the last five criteria. [74] Among the five remaining benchmarks that Turkey still has to meet are: the truth is the same in 2019 as it was three years ago, when the agreement was reached: Turkey is not a safe country for refugees and cannot guarantee the fundamental rights of those on its territory. . . .