The following article represents the personal view of EESC member who took part in the missions and does not necessarily reflect the views of the EESC.
"As a result of the visit, I have changed the way I look at the migrant crisis. In one meeting, for example, we began by talking about migrant pressure on border areas. Civil society bore out what we said - but by talking about Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey itself, where the situation is truly critical: Turkey - 3 000 000 refugees, Lebanon - 1 070 000, Jordan - 640 000. To talk about a "crisis" in the EU, with a population of 500 million and which took in some 1 000 000 people in 2015, is not serious.
What impressed me most was the commitment of NGOs working with refugees, especially in the Izmir area. Even so, I was struck by the hopelessness felt by many of these activists - they are very pessimistic about how the situation is unfolding and especially about the role that the EU might play. Regrettably, their fears have been entirely justified by the EU-Turkey agreement.
I personally believe that integration is impossible given the legal and political environment in Turkey: if a stable and comparable legal status, containing a recognisable set of rights and obligations, is not acknowledged, no framework for integration can be put in place. Consequently, civil society must help the Turkish population to see refugees as human beings who are seeking protection, and pave the way for the Turkish state to consider them as refugees under the Geneva Convention. Integration policies can only be shaped within a stable and secure legal framework. If this is achieved, NGOs will have a decisive role to play in identifying real needs."