The Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and discusses Iran, EU-US trade relations and Poland
European Agenda on Migration and EU Visa Policy
The Commission reported on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and the Commission's roadmap from December 2017, and set out further key actions to be taken. While joint EU efforts have continued to show results, the situation remains fragile due to ongoing migratory pressure, as evidenced by newly increased arrivals along the Eastern and the Western Mediterranean routes. This requires the EU as a whole to show the necessary vigilance and preparedness to respond to any seasonal peaks or shifts in pressure, including from one route to another. Today's report identifies where the current response needs to be strengthened. Concretely, to sustain the EU's comprehensive approach on migration and ensure Europe is equipped to deal with any future crisis, Member States should now:
- Fill gaps in border guards and equipment for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency;
- Fill the €1.2 billion gap in funding for the EU Trust Fund for Africa;
- Improve conditions in Greece and accelerate returns to Turkey;
- Significantly step up returns and make use of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency's mandate to assist with returns;
- Accelerate resettlement efforts under the new scheme for priority countries, in particular as concerns the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger, as well as under the EU-Turkey Statement;
- Swiftly reach an agreement on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, to ensure the EU is prepared to deal with any future crises.
The Commission also proposed today to upgrade the Visa Information System which is the database containing information on persons applying for Schengen visas, in order to better respond to evolving security and migratory challenges and improve the EU's external border management. The proposed changes will allow for more thorough background checks on visa applicants, close security information gaps through better information exchange between Member States, and ensure full interoperability with other EU-wide databases.
Today's proposal expands the scope of the Visa Information System – notably by adding long stay-visas and residence permits to the system – in full respect of data protection rules, to ensure that these authorities have the information they need, when they need it. The proposal is the second step of the reform of the common EU visa policy and follows the amendments to the Visa Code, presented by the Commission in March 2018.
Visit by Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres
As part of his two day visit to Brussels, Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres visited the European Commission today and joined the College for a working lunch. At a bilateral meeting with President Juncker, the two leaders discussed EU-UN relations, including the UN reform and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals; foreign policy issues with a particular focus on Iran, Syria and advancing the trilateral European Union – United Nations – African Union cooperation on Libya; as well as global challenges, including climate change and migration.
Current international issues and other issues
Ahead of the informal meeting of EU leaders in Sofia on 16 May, the College discussed current international issues. High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini reported on the follow-up to the withdrawal of the United States from Iran's nuclear program and on yesterday's meetings of the EU/E3 and EU/E3 and Iran. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström informed the College on the state of play of EU-US trade relations.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans reported on the results of the General Affairs Council which took place on 14 May on the rule of law in Poland. Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger presented the main conclusions of the 2017 Annual Activity Report of the Commission services, summarising the achievements, the initiatives taken and the financial and human resources deployed during the year.
Factsheet – Upgrading the Visa Information System (VIS)
Factsheet – EU Information Systems
16 May 2018