Demonstrators, led by the Socialist group in the European Parliament, have called for EU member countries to stop building walls to keep out refugees and migrants and to work together to solve the crisis.
Martin Schulz, the European Parliament President, said the survival of the EU project itself could be at stake if the situation isn’t resolved.
“We are in a dramatic situation: The Balkan route is closed, in Austria borders are closed, in Macedonia too, most member states do not receive refugees,” said Schulz.
“People say we shouldn’t deal with Turkey – while in Idomeni in Greece people are living in the mud. We have to put an end on Friday to this scandal, if member states – especially those ones who don’t receive refugees – want to keep a minimum of credibilty.”
The deal, which the EU hopes to reach before its summit on Thursday, would see Europe resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey for every migrant returned from Greece.
On Wednesday the European Commission discussed concessions to Ankara over visas and relaunching negotiations for EU membership but said Turkey was not being offered a “free ride.”
“For the moment, it is Turkey that has been used by the smugglers and by the refugees,” said EU Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos.
“And what we try to do now is firstly to get Turkey on board, secondly to manage the flows and thirdly to fight in an effective way the smugglers network, to crack down on the smugglers pattern.”
While Europe debates, more than 12,000 Syrian refugees remain stranded at the Idomeni camp in Greece, after the closure of the Macedonian border.
Despite the promises, fewer than 1,000 refugees have been relocated from Greece and Italy out of 160,000 pledged by Member States.