Aware of the lack of internal solidarity between the EU MS the Heads of State or Government of the European Union, in a panic move, are outsourcing the EU policies on borders, asylum and irregular migration to Turkey and NATO… Not surprisingly Turkey will also show to the EU that a 80 millions habitants country would be able to manage in full respect of fundamental rights (?) 3 millions of refugees while the richest region in the world with half billion habitants is still apparently unable to cope with 1 million of refugees and a relocation programme of 160.000…
Notwithstanding the rhetorical (and sometime bullying) posture of some of Prime ministers in the European Council the EU is proving once again that is currently unable to overcome alone the challenges of a globalised world and should always ask for a third party help. In the same mood it is giving up our privacy to an US Privacy Shield and entrusting the financial “EU” solidarity to a Troika with the IMF…
An interesting example of this cacophony is also the growing confusion of roles between the European Council itself (which is an European Union Institution which should abide with EU law) and the Heads of State or Government acting alone (without the participation of the Commission) but making statements on behalf of the European Union as it happened yesterday.
Moreover it is rather interesting to see that the final version of the Heads of State and Governments “Statement” still maintain a reference to the fact that the so called Balkan Route is now closed (as required by the Visegrad Countries and confirmed by the European Council President Tusk) even if, according to press sources, this concept was not shared by Germany and the Commission.
The Emperor is without clothes but it is more than likely that this week the main political groups in the EP will probably welcome such an outcome (which hides once again the divergent agendas inside the EU). But are this European Council, this Parliament and this EU still credible and democratically accountable to anyone?
Statement of the EU Heads of State or Government, 07/03/2016
- Following their meeting with Prime Minister Davutoğlu, the EU Heads of State or Government addressed the migration situation, in particular as regards the Western Balkans route. They welcomed their discussion with the Turkish Prime Minister on EU-Turkey relations and on the progress made in the implementation of the Joint Action Plan. Turkey confirmed its commitment in implementing the bilateral Greek-Turkish readmission agreement to accept the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back all irregular migrants apprehended on Turkish waters.The Heads of State or Government agreed that bold moves were needed to close down people smuggling routes, to break the business model of the smugglers, to protect our external borders and to end the migration crisis in Europe. We need to break the link between getting in a boat and getting settlement in Europe.That is why they underlined the importance of the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea that became operational today. They called on all members of NATO to support it actively. They warmly welcomed the additional proposals made today by Turkey to address the migration issue. They agreed to work on the basis of the principles they contain:
- to return all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands with the costs covered by the EU;
- to resettle, for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian from Turkey to the EU Member States, within the framework of the existing commitments;
- to accelerate the implementation of the visa liberalization roadmap with all Member States with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016;
- to speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated 3 billion euros to ensure funding of a first set of projects before the end of March and decide on additional funding for the Refugee Facility for Syrians;
- to prepare for the decision on the opening of new chapters in the accession negotiations as soon as possible, building on the October 2015 European Council conclusions;
- to work with Turkey in any joint endeavour to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe.
The President of the European Council will take forward these proposals and work out the details with the Turkish side before the March European Council. This work will respect European and international law.
The EU Heads of State or Government also discussed with the Turkish Prime Minister the situation of the media in Turkey.
- Heads of State or Government further recalled that the European Council, at its meeting on 18-19 February, decided to get back to a situation where all Members of the Schengen area fully apply the Schengen Borders Code, while taking into account the specificities of the maritime borders, and to end the wave-through approach. Irregular flows of migrants along the Western Balkans route have now come to an end.3. In order to make this sustainable, action is required along the following lines:
- a) stand by Greece, in this difficult moment and do our utmost to help manage the situation that has arisen as a consequence of this development. This is a collective EU responsibility requiring fast and efficient mobilisation of all available EU means and resources and of Member States’ contributions;b) provide an immediate and effective response to the very difficult humanitarian situation which is rapidly developing on the ground. Emergency support will be provided urgently by the Commission, in close cooperation with Greece, other Member States and non-governmental organisations on the basis of an assessment, by the Commission and Greece, of the needs and a contingency and response plan. In this context, Heads of State or Government welcome the Commission proposal on the provision of emergency support within the EU and call on the Council to adopt it before the March European Council, thus expanding the range of financial instruments that can be used; they invite the budgetary authority to take any necessary follow-up measures;c) provide further assistance to Greece in managing the external borders, including those with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and ensuring the proper functioning of hotspots, with 100% identification, registration and security checks, and the provision of sufficient reception capacities. Frontex will launch an additional call for national guest officers as soon as possible and all Member States should respond in full by 1 April at the latest. Europol will rapidly deploy guest officers in all hotspots to reinforce security checks and support the Greek authorities in the fight against smugglers;
d) assist Greece in ensuring comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey of all irregular migrants not in need of international protection, building on the Greece-Turkey readmission agreement and, from 1 June, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement;
e) accelerate substantially the implementation of relocation to alleviate the heavy burden that presently weighs on Greece. EASO will launch a further call for national expertise to support the Greek asylum system and all Member States should respond rapidly and in full. Member States are also invited to provide more places for relocation as a matter of urgency. The Commission will report on a monthly basis to the Council on the implementation of relocation commitments;
f) continue to cooperate closely with the non-EU countries of the Western Balkans and provide any necessary assistance;
g) implement the existing resettlement commitments and continue work on a credible voluntary humanitarian admission programme with Turkey;
h) take any necessary measures immediately in respect of any new routes opening up, and step up the fight against smugglers;
i) take forward, as a matter of priority, all the elements of the Commission roadmap on getting “back to Schengen”, so as to end temporary internal border controls and re-establish the normal functioning of the Schengen area before the end of the year.
This document does not establish any new commitments on Member States as far as relocation and resettlement is concerned.
These are urgent measures that have to be taken against the background of the present situation on the ground and should be kept under review. The European Council will come back to the migration file in all its aspects at the March European Council to further consolidate the joint European implementation of our comprehensive migration strategy.
Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the meeting of the EU heads of state or government with Turkey Go to the website
We have just finished a summit between Turkey and the European Union. We agreed that despite good implementation of the Joint Action Plan on migration, the flow of migrants passing from Turkey to Greece remains much too high and needs to be brought down significantly. I am happy that we have a common understanding with Prime Minister Davutoğlu on strengthening our cooperation so as to achieve concrete results on the ground within days.
Today we assessed the progress made so far.
Last week’s return of migrants from Greece to Turkey was the first visible step of the bilateral agreement becoming more operational and effective. Prime Minister Davutoğlu confirmed Turkey’s commitment to accept the rapid return of all migrants coming from Turkey to Greece that are not in need of international protection.
The EU will support Greece in ensuring comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey.
We also welcomed the establishment of the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea and we look forward to its contribution to enhance intelligence and surveillance with a view to stemming migrant crossings.
This operation will not work without Turkey’s readiness to take back all irregular migrants who have been apprehended in Turkish waters.
Today we were assured that this will be possible. All the above mentioned decisions send a very clear message that the days of irregular migration to the European Union are over.
Furthermore, we welcomed new, bold proposals made today by Turkey to further address this crisis. We agreed to work on the basis of the following principles:
- the return of all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands;
- the acceleration of the implementation of the visa liberalization roadmap;
- the speedingup the disbursement of the 3bn euro and additional funding for the Refugee Facility for Syrians;
- the preparation for the opening of new chapters in the accession negotiations;
- the possibility of establishing in Syria areas which will be more safe;
And finally to resettle Syrian refugees on a one-for-one basis.
I was assigned by leaders to take forward these proposals and work out the details together with the Turkish side before the next European Council.
We also discussed with Prime Minister Davutoğlu the situation of the media in Turkey. We all know how important freedom of speech and expression are, these are fundamental human rights. Without them, there cannot be the healthy development of any culture, of any society. I am saying all this because we cannot stay indifferent to the concerns raised in this context about what is now happening in Turkey.
Finally, let me stress that our meeting lasted longer not only because of our talks with Turkey but also due to the fact that leaders had a number of important decisions to take. Firstly, I would like to announce the decision by the EU leaders to end the ‘wave-through approach’ which means that the irregular flow of migrants along the Western Balkan route have now come to an end.
To facilitate this change, we agreed to help Greece and to deploy massive humanitarian assistance there. Emergency support to the very difficult humanitarian situation on the ground will be provided urgently. We will also offer further assistance in order to manage the external border in Greece, including those with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. This is a collective EU responsibility and so Greece will not be left alone.