Leaders' meeting on the Western Balkans Migration Route: common press conference by Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel, and Antonio Guterres
Type: Complete press conference
Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
On 26 October 2015, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, invited the Heads of State or Government of Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor, António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, gave a press conference in Brussels, following the meeting. They agreed on a 17-point action plan to improve cooperation on border management and step up the provision of humanitarian support to asylum seekers along the Western Balkan Route. The action plan includes measures that will be operational as of today, including the establishment of contact points to ensure a permanent exchange of information, providing shelter to refugees, managing migration flows together, and increased efforts to manage borders. Leaders agreed to improve communication of information on the rights and obligations of refugees and migrants and to monitor their agreed commitments under the action plan on a weekly basis.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor, and António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the press room of the EC Berlaymont building - SOUNDBITE by Margaritis Schinas, Chief European Commission Spokesman (in ENGLISH) welcoming the speakers
||SOUNDBITE by Jean-Claude Juncker (in GERMAN) saying that, in order to avert a humanitarian crisis and to master the dramatic situation of the last few days at the West-Balkan route, we need more cooperation and closer consultation between the countries in the region. That's why the EC has convened this meeting with the countries concerned, the EU agencies and institutions. The goal was to agree on concrete operational steps, concrete measures that can be implemented as from tomorrow, the EC has seen that the leaders are aware of their responsibility, it is not the problem of a single country, not the sole problem of Croatia, Slovenia or Germany. This is a European issue that the countries must solve together.Therefore, Jean-Claude Juncker brought all stakeholders to the table and said: You should talk to each other not only through the media, but talk to each other especially. This is especially true when decisions impact directly the neighbouring countries. The Saint-Florian principle (spare my house, burn rather the neighbour) must no longer apply in the refugee policy, it has to be replaced by the principle of solidarity. The Member States that are currently less stressed, can help their neighbours with their borders staff, technical aids and tents for the reception and care of refugees. Solidarity and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
||SOUNDBITE by Jean-Claude Juncker (in ENGLISH): we addressed three main challenges: 1) Providing Shelter - The immediate imperative is to provide shelter and ensure refugees and migrants along the Western Balkans route are treated in a humane manner. It cannot be that in the Europe of 2015, people are left to fend for themselves, sleeping in fields and wading chest-deep through rivers in freezing temperatures.Leaders committed to providing temporary shelter, food, health care, water and sanitation. Where national capacities fall short, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism should be triggered. Sufficient temporary accommodation must be ensured along the Western Balkans route – we will increase reception capacities to 100,000 places in Greece and the Western Balkans: I commend Alexis Tsipras for his commitment to increase reception capacity in Greece to 30,000 places by the end of the year, with the UNHCR to help provide at least 20,000 more places in Greece. And I am particularly grateful to António Guterres, who will ensure the UNHCR lends its full support to these efforts, increasing the provision of humanitarian support to those in need and support the increase of reception capacities by a further 50,000 along the Western Balkans route.2) Managing the migration flows together: The only way to restore order to the situation is to slow down the uncontrolled flows of people. The policy of waving through people to neighbouring countries has to stop. I want to be clear: people must be registered. No registration, no rights. Leaders meeting today all committed, first of all, to sharing information about flows and, second of all, to refrain from taking unilateral decisions whose effects are inevitably borne by others. To facilitate this, all will appoint by tomorrow national contact points to exchange information and achieve the gradual, controlled and orderly movement of persons along the Western Balkans route.3) Border Management: To safeguard Schengen, we also need to strengthen border management; In addition, we will deploy 400 police officers to Slovenia within a week; The EU and our neighbouring countries have to work together in this. Our partners in the region – all of whom aspire to EU values and standards and have an EU perspective – share this common goal. I am therefore pleased that we could all come together today, in this European spirit. And I would thank, in particular, Angela Merkel for her initiative and support in making this meeting possible.
||SOUNDBITE by Jean-Claude Juncker (in FRENCH) saying that what is needed now is to put these commitments into practice. Much has been made lately of European values, but they have not been sufficiently put into action. Now we will proceed to a weekly assessment undertaken progress. There is not a quick fix. Closing borders is not a long term solution. The solution is to act as Europeans into a fair and responsible manner, combining all our policy instruments, legislative, financial and operational.Europe can not be built against each other, Europe must be built with each other.
||SOUNDBITE by Angela Merkel (in GERMAN) on the fact that European countries will work closer on the migration crisis, saying that reception centres would be established along the so-called “Balkan route” taken by most migrants that could hold and process 50,000 people, with facilities for 50,000 more to be set up in Greece, in the short term.
||SOUNDBITE by António Guterres (in ENGLISH) saying that the EU remain a continent of asylum, the sustainability of it can only be possible if it becomes the project of all European countries, the project of solidarity involving all the EU, for that, relocation is a must, thanking Greece for the creation of hotspots and the creation of relocation possibility in families, saying that EU is very concerned by the arrival of the winter, there was a consensus about a very clear distinction, there are people in need of protection, refugees, it is not an option to receive them or not, Europe must welcome them, there are also people that move for other reasons and that are not in need of protection, we all think that a return to their country of origin is normal
||Question and answer session
||Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel, António Guterres and Margaritis Schinas leaving the press room
||Cutaway of cameramen, photographs and journalists listening to the press conference (5 shots)