Critics of the proposal note that Turkey is already overburdened with an influx of migrants and has not fully ratified the Geneva Convention, a 1951 UN treaty on the protection of refugees, making the deal potentially illegal.
“It’s contrary to the protection of refugees that we have under the UN Convention on Refugees and it’s also contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits collective expulsion of foreigners to a country,” William Schabas, an international human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Middlesex told RFI.
“In a much broader sense it’s also contrary to the whole philosophy of the treatment or refugees that has been a part of European policy since the end of the Second World War."
Rules on asylum applications in Europe clearly indicate that all applications must be considered and asylum seekers should not be sent back to a country that does not offer proper protection.
To circumvent this problem, the EU will probably agree a common declaration that Turkey is a “safe” third country.
Proponents of the plan argue the idea is to eliminate human trafficking and smuggling across the Aegean Sea, which has led to a number of deaths. According to Amnesty International researcher Andrew Gardner, however, the plan remains flawed.
“To only have resettlements based on people travelling irregularly to Greece means that in order to resettle someone you need to have another refugee risking his or her life by going to the Greek Islands, which is absolutely mystifying,” Gardner told RFI.
Among the political issues at stake is Turkey’s bid for EU membership. Turkey has been eyeing full membership for years but faces significant opposition from member countries and has never been able to fulfil the criteria.
Fadi Hakura, a political analyst at London's Chatham House, says Turkey's failure to meet human rights standards has taken such a discussion off the table entirely, even with Turkey's involvement in this deal.
“Turkey is no longer meeting the political criteria in terms of freedom, human rights and media freedoms to allow accession to take place, nor is the EU expressing any inclination in favor of Turkey’s accession to the European Club,” Hakura told RFI.
One possible bargaining point for Turkey would be a simplified visa process for Turkish citizens entering the EU, a big win at home for Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Migrants reaching Greece’s shores have reached up to 2,000 a day.
The number of refugees remaining in Greece is about to escalate exponentially as yesterday western Balkan nations announced complete closure of their borders. The move comes partially as an attempt to stop migrant flows into northern Europe as details of the Berlin-Ankara deal continue to be worked out.
The deal is expected to be finalised between 17-18 March during an EU summit in Brussels.