European Commission

Weekly meeting | 14/10/2015

Managing the refugee crisis and redrawing EU trade strategy

Archive photo of a migrant registration centre in PassauArchive photo of a migrant registration centre in Passau

Ahead of the European Council the Commission reports on progress made on managing the refugee crisis. The first concrete results are there, but Member States still need to do more. The Commission also proposes to adapt its trade strategy to today's economic and social realities.

Ahead of the European Council of 15 October, the Commission today presents the progress made on the priority actions under the European Agenda on Migration, progress on the operational measures, budgetary commitments and actions to implement EU law – that were proposed by the Commission and endorsed by Heads of State and Government on 23 September.

President Juncker, who presented this Commission contribution to the October European Council before the European Parliament, said: The Commission has lived up to its commitments. We have dedicated more money to the refugee crisis, sent our experts to Greece and Italy to make the hotspots and relocation scheme function, and pushed all Member States to properly apply the EU's common asylum rules. We have seen concrete results, but we still need Member States to do more. Noble words need to be followed by concrete actions back home."

  • Operational measures:
    • Migration Management Support Teams working in "hotspots" are now fully operational in Italy, Lampedusa, and soon in Greece. This has allowed for first relocations of asylum seekers to take place as well as a number of return flights for irregular migrants with no right to stay. First resettlements have also been implemented.
    • Member States still need to meet call for national experts to support work in the hotspots; to notify the Commission of reception capacity for resettlement and relocation; and to identify national contact points andsend liaison officers to Italy and Greece to make resettlement and relocation work.
  • Budgetary commitments:
    • The Commission has already proposed amendments to its 2015 budget (additional €800 million now agreed) and its 2016 budget (proposal for additional €900 million now before the budget authority). Together with the € 1.2 billion mobilised already in May this brings the total available EU funding for the refugee crisisto almost €10 billion in 2015 and 2016
    • Member States still need to match EU funding for the UNHCR, World Food Programme and other agencies (€500 million); for the EU Regional Trust Fund for Syria (€500 million), and the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (€1.8 billion).
  • Implementation of EU law:
    • 40 infringement decisions against 19 Member States were adopted on 23 September, on top of 34 cases already open. The Commission will ensure active and swift follow-up of all infringement proceedings in asylum and return
    • The Commission will assess the situation concerning the reinstatement of Dublin transfers to Greece; and will present an Opinion on the prolongation of temporary border controls by Germany, Austria and Slovenia.
  • The external dimension is key:
    • A diplomatic offensive is underway to put migration at the centre of bilateral, regional and multilateral dialogues.
    • Preparations are ongoing with African partners to prepare for successful conclusions to the Valetta Summit on Migration, on 11-12 November.
    • The Commission is now in active discussions with the Turkish authorities to finalise the detailed Action Plan on Migration handed over by President Juncker to President Erdo─čan on 5 October.
    • The recently adopted Declaration at the High-level conference on the Eastern-Mediterranean – Western Balkans Route paves the way for increased cooperation with partners in our immediate neighbourhood.
    • The EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling presented in May is now being implemented.

The steps outlined above aim to make the EU's migration system robust enough to cope with migration peaks. Recognising that Member States need to be supported more strongly in the challenge of managing Europe's external borders, the Commission will present a proposal to establish a European Border and Coast Guard before the end of the year. A legal migration package (including the revision of the Blue Card), further reform of theDublin Regulation, a structured system on resettlement and an updated strategy on human trafficking will be tabled in March 2016.

In a separate move, the Commission has today also outlined a new, more responsible international trade and investment strategy for the European Union, entitled ‘Trade for All: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’.

This strategy is designed to correspond to new economic realities and ensure that EU trade policy is in tune with EU values such as sustainable development, human rights, fair and ethical trade and the fight against corruption.

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