European Council President Donald Tusk has called the latest in a series of special meetings of EU leaders on the migrant crisis, this time for November 12 in Malta’s capital Valletta.
The focus of the meeting is to be the state of measures decided by EU leaders at previous meetings in September and October, Tusk told EU heads of state and government in a letter.
In particular, the meeting is to discuss progress on stepping up the EU’s co-operation with third countries, including Turkey, on stemming migrant flows, and progress in implementing decisions on migrant relocation, setting up “hotspots” in Greece and Italy, as well as reinforcing reception capacities and providing FRONTEX and EASO with the required additional expertise.
“Finally, we should discuss how to effectively reinforce the control of our external borders,” Tusk said in the letter.
He said that European Council meetings in September and October had “set orientations in developing a comprehensive European response to the migration crisis and led to some positive results”.
The fact that thanks to European contributions the World Food Programme has been able to increase its assistance to refugees in the region gives hope to those most affected, Tusk said.
“However, the situation is still very serious, both in the region and in Europe.”
The migratory flow was continuing at an unprecedented pace, he said, noting that in October, Europe had experienced a record level of 218 000 refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
Faced with such a migratory wave, some EU states have been introducing different measures at internal Schengen borders, Tusk said.
“As I have warned before, the only way not to dismantle Schengen is to ensure proper management of EU external borders.
“We must do all we can to keep Schengen intact and so any initiative that may lead to the re-establishment of borders within Schengen should be withheld. If we are to avoid the worst we must speed up our actions.”
Tusk said that, given the speed at which events are developing, “it is essential for all of us to have up-to-date information”.
He welcomed the initiatives by Luxembourg, current holder of the rotating presidency of the European Council, to activate the EU’s Integrated Political Crisis Response arrangements and to convene a special meeting of EU justice and home affairs minister on November 9, “which should usefully inform our discussions in Valletta”.
“While we will come back to the issue of migration at our regular meeting in December, I do not exclude that we would need to set further orientations already in Valletta,” Tusk said.
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)