Friday, October 16, 2015

At the EU Summit on European migration policy yesterday (15.10) in Brussels, EU leaders agreed on political support for on an action plan with Turkey to tackle the current migration and refugee crisis.

At the end of the Summit, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk expressed cautious optimism, noting that important decisions were taken to help secure the Union's external borders. 

EU leaders also agreed to work on an integrated border management system going beyond the Frontex mandate and making it a more operational body. Broader challenges involved in facing a new influx of refugees next year were also discussed, as was the future of the Dublin regulation, the EU border guard system and the specific role of hotspots. 

Turkey has agreed to step up its efforts to stem the wave of refugees towards Europe and in exchange, Europe will increase its funding to Turkey and accelerate the process of visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker clarified that visa liberalization will only happen if Turkey first fulfills its obligations according to the rules.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the Summit, saying that the "decisions are in the right direction", noting however that the EU is proceeding very slowly. Commenting on the EU-Turkey joint action plan, Tsipras said the agreement with the neighboring country "will reduce the number of refugees who board boats of traffickers and put their life in danger".

The agreement with Turkey must not entail any compromises on critical issues, Tsipras said, "especially on matters of national sovereignty, a point agreed upon by all EU members".