EU leaders at a summit in Brussels said they agreed on an 'action plan' with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to cooperate on improving the lives of two million Syrian refugees in Turkey and encouraging them to stay put.

They also agreed to coordinate border controls to slow the influx of migrants crossing Turkey from Asia.

Though the plan put no figure on 'substantial and concrete new funds' the EU would offer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the figure of 3 billion euros, which EU officials said Ankara had requested, had been discussed and seem reasonable.

"Our intensified meetings with Turkish leaders.. in the last couple of weeks were devoted to one goal: stemming the migratory flows that go via Turkey to the EU. The action plan is a major step in this direction," said summit chairman Donald Tusk, expressing 'cautious optimism'.

In formal conclusions agreed by the 28 national leaders at a meeting that ended after midnight, Turkey was offered an accelerated path to giving its citizens visa-free travel to the EU, provided it met previously agreed conditions.

Progress would also depend on Ankara showing real help in slowing migration and would be reviewed next spring.

Merkel, who will visit Istanbul for talks with Erdogan on Sunday in a political gesture two weeks before a Turkish general election, said it was clear that Europe's efforts to filter and process refugees would not work without Turkey's cooperation.

"The hotspots alone won't solve the problem," she said.

 

Latest News from World News Desk