ACTING Spanish president Mariano Rajoy has bowed to pressured from the opposition and part of his own cabinet over the controversial EU refugee deal.
The plan involves sending back all migrants who enter Europe illegally through Turkey either to this or their own country – including Syrians and other legitimate refugees – at the EU's expense, and in exchange for each one returned to Turkey, another Syrian would be taken from a refugee camp in the country and resettled elsewhere in Europe.
Additionally, the deal would permit Turkish nationals entry into Europe with just a passport and no visa from June this year, and expedite talks on the country's joining the Union.
Further, the €3 billion Turkey has requested from the EU to help it cope with the influx of refugees from Syria would be paid more quickly, and the additional €3bn Turkey has asked for would be discussed very shortly.
Rajoy was all for signing on Spain's behalf, but most of the PP and all the other parties say they believe the deal is illegal.
Now, Rajoy – who allegedly refused to stand up in front of Parliament to discuss the matter – is said to have agreed to seek 'political consensus' before heading for the European Council summit this coming Wednesday, March 17.
Every one of the 227 MPs in opposition and most of the PP have rejected the EU deal with Turkey.
Valencian vice-president Mònica Oltra and her party, Compromís, backed by the socialist regional government, has publicly stated she finds it 'shameful' how not one EU country has managed to resettle the outpouring of refugees from Iraq and Syria yet.
She says homes repossessed by banks and as yet unsold would be set aside – as well as for social housing for existing Spanish residents who needed them – as refugee accommodation, and literally thousands of residents in the three provinces of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón had offered holiday or weekend homes or rooms in their main residences to house them, whilst cross-Mediterranean ferry firm Baleària has offered to launch ferries to ship refugees safely to Spain.
Oltra says the region could easily take in 1,400 refugees right now without noticing – this would be fewer than three per town.
With such an overwhelming majority of MPs against the EU refugee deal, Rajoy faces a tough task gaining support for his signature on the paper and it looks likely he will choose not to sign up to it.
He had intended to send along a Secretary of State to the European Council summit, because a caretaker government is not subject to control by Parliament.