November, EU justice and home affairs held a Council meeting in Brussels. According to the meeting´s conclusions, the ministers agreed: to speed up the asylum-seekers resettlement scheme – the EU has a mechanism for 160 thousand relocations in place, but thus far, only tens of persons were relocated. The ministers acknowledged that the problem is on both sides – some receiving states have not yet declared when and how many refugees exactly they will relocate, they agreed to declare it by 16 November. Italy and Greece did not provide enough personnel to make the relocations possible either – this was also agreed to be tackled immediately. All countries also agreed to speed up returns. Furthermore, the EU wants to have hotspots in Italy and Greece by the end of the month. Existing enforcement mechanisms are to be strengthened and Europol was invited to accelerate its preparation of border management joint operation teams. At the December European Council, the heads of state and government will discuss the state of play of Schengen, which has been under pressure (Sweden introduced temporary border checks last week, too). Also, the EU agreed to set up an information campaign in countries of origin explaining the rules of asylum procedures inside the EU – notably the obligation of the asylum-seeker to register in the first EU country he enters and the obligation to accept relocation in any EU member state.
On 11 and 12 November, EU and African heads of state or government met at the Valetta Migration Summit to discuss the tackling of current and prevention of future migration crises. In a final declaration, the countries agreed to work together in a wide range of areas to solve the problem. A more detailed action plan followed. Both the declaration and the action plan can be accessed here.
After the summit, European Council President Donald Tusk called an informal EU summit. Leaders discussed the latest developments in the migration crisis. Donald Tusk called for concrete steps to ensure the survival of Schengen. In this context, he welcomed the pledge of Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary to send 225 officials to join the Frontex and EASO agencies. He also explained, that in order to accelerate the crucial cooperation with Turkey, he will work with EU and Turkish partners on an EU-Turkish summit, possibly by the end of November, to discuss more concrete measures. Tusk´s statement can be accessed here.
It is interesting, that the Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka acted not only as the representative for the Czech Republic at the informal summit. The outgoing Polish PM Eva Kopacz asked him to represent also Poland. At the time of the summit, Poland held the opening session of the new parliament after the recent elections. Euroskop reported on this.
Meanwhile, Germany stated that it would once again apply the Dublin rules to Syrian asylum-seekers (Euroskop). The moment of the week, however, came on Friday night. The terrorist attacks in Paris and the possible refugee-related dimension (one of the attackers could have entered the EU with the refugees) refocused the EU´s attention on the security dimension of the crisis. Interior ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting of the Council on Thursday 19 November to discuss enhanced security measures. The new Polish government has indicated it would not fulfill its refugee-resettlement commitments shortly after the attacks (Politico Europe). Then on Saturday, the negotiators for the US, Russia, European and Middle Eastern countries reached an agreement on a roadmap towards political transition in Syria – hoping to facilitate the end of the civil war (and stopping the refugee wave to Europe; EurActiv).
2nd May 2018