President Jean-Claude Juncker this morning addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg in a debate about the next European Council.
Regarding the draft settlement on the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union, President Juncker stated: "I have always said I wanted the UK to remain a member of the EU on the basis of a fair deal. The settlement that has been proposed is fair for the United Kingdom, and fair for the other 27 Member States. It is also fair for the European Parliament." He also took the opportunity to underline the Commission's role as a facilitator in the negotiations, saying that the Commission had been fully associated to the work on the settlement. "I have worked closely with President Tusk and Prime Minister Cameron to shape the proposal presented yesterday," he added, and "therefore, the Commission supports these texts.
Regarding the refugee crisis, which the European Council will also address, President Juncker called again on Member States to respect their commitments. "The refugee crisis each day becomes a crisis of European solidarity precisely when we need more coordination, more cooperation, more Union." Mr Juncker underscored that the European Union and its Member States have a "joint responsibility" facing these challenges, and "it is this shared responsibility which must now be turned into action by all". Turning to Schengen, the President was unequivocal: "There is one way to save Schengen: we must apply its rules, all of them. We will save Schengen by applying Schengen." On Greece's role within Schengen, the President made it clear that it was "not a question of isolating or stigmatising the Greeks but of helping Greece to respect its obligations."