An upcoming EU summit with Turkey will be crucial to stem the flow of refugees and migrants coming into Europe, European commissioner for migration has said.
Speaking in Brussels Friday, Dimitris Avramopoulos presented a roadmap for restoring the EU's Schengen zone, which has come under strain due to the worst refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II.
A collapse of the Schengen borderless zone could cost EU member states between 5 billion euros and 18 billion euros per year, Avramopoulos warned.
The roadmap is seeking to replace the current Dublin rules under which refugees must apply for asylum in the first country they arrive in; the current rules put pressure on Greece, where thousands of refugees arrive via the Aegean.
EU is hoping a readmission agreement with Turkey that will allow asylum seekers in Europe to be sent back to the country, which currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the world.
''Cooperation with Turkey and the summit on Monday are so crucial,'' Avramopoulos said. ''We need to see the flows from Turkey drastically [go] down soon,'' he added.
His comments came on the same day as the EU's statistics agency Eurostat reported that 1.2 million people had applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, more than double the amount in 2014.
Under a refugee action plan, the EU pledged to provide 3 billion euros over the next two years to meet the needs of refugees hosted in Turkey. The first payout of 95 million euros was announced Friday.
EU is also expecting Turkey to crack down on people smugglers and stem the refugee flow in exchange for providing visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and speeding up the country's EU accession process.
Turkey will meet EU's 28 leaders on March 7 for a wide-ranging summit that is expected to focus on the refugee crisis.
Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration. Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean.