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We need to comply with the Schengen Borders Code

07 March 16 | Donald Tusk
Donald Tusk

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Antulio Richetta

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European Council President Donald Tusk outlined the three points which will be the basis of the meeting of EU heads of state or government on March 7 in Brussels, in a letter he sent to the 28 European leaders.

 

Initially “we need to return to Schengen”, Tusk said, adding that the countries of the Western Balkans route, also those outside the EU, are ready and determined to fully comply with the EU’s common rules and decisions, including the Schengen Borders Code.

“This will be the end for the so-called wave-through policy of migrants,” he said. “It will not solve the crisis but it is a necessary pre-condition for a European consensus.

On Monday, we should all confirm this approach. With that we will close the Western Balkans route, which was the main entry point for migrants with 880,000 entering in 2015 alone and 128,000 in the first two months of this year,” he added in the letter.

The second point is that the EU must move forward in its cooperation with Turkey, on migration and beyond, noting that the summit meeting last November reinvigorated bilateral cooperation in many areas such as accession and visa liberalisation processes as well as in energy and economic dialogues.

“In my meeting with Prime Minister Davutoglu in Ankara on Thursday, we agreed that there is good progress to report on a number of actions in our EU-Turkey Action Plan but that the number of illegal entries from Turkey to Greece remains far too high.

We both believe that we can reduce the flow through large-scale and rapid return from Greece of all migrants not in need of international protection,” Tusk says, adding that there is political will but it also poses a “logistical challenge”, in which the EU has to support Greece.

“Prime Minister Davutoglu also confirmed Turkey's readiness to take back all migrants apprehended in Turkish waters,” he noted in the letter. On Monday, the two sided will discuss cooperation on migration and beyond and endorse the concrete steps to implement the EU-Turkey action plan.

Tusk’s third point is that the EU needs to scale up humanitarian assistance, especially in Greece. “As our colleague, Prime Minister Tsipras, has said, we must not allow Greece to become ‘a warehouse of souls’,” he writes and continues:

“On Monday, I would like us to agree that all available EU tools, including accelerated relocation, should be used to address the humanitarian consequences for the refugees, not least in Greece, in a speedy and effective way.”

This, he concludes, also includes the European Commission's proposal of a new Emergency Assistance instrument of euro 700 million, recognising the role of national governments in these humanitarian efforts.

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