EU Migration Summit: Schulz stresses need to share responsibility

EU leaders meet in Brussels for migration summit • David Cameron says he will "quicken the pace" of his EU reform negotiations

European Parliament president Martin Schulz
European Parliament president Martin Schulz

Europe needs a binding permanent system for relocating refugees, European Parliament President Martin Schulz told heads of state and government at the start of a European Council dedicated to migration earlier today.

“European solidarity is about sharing responsibilities and leaving no-one alone,” he said.

The summit, being held between the 15th and16th October will also deal with the economic and monetary union, the UK’s referendum on the EU as well as Turkey and Syria.

Schulz said that progress had already been made in recent months, despite the initial problems. He listed the creation of a joint search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean, the fight against human traffickers, amending the EU’s budget for 2015 to allocate more resources for tackling the refugee crisis, as well as more funding for humanitarian organisations helping refugees, among the achievements so far.

He added, however, that a new permanent system for relocating refugees was necessary:

“Reality has rendered the Dublin system obsolete. We have the choice between stumbling from one crisis to the next and patching together short-term remedies for individual aspects - or to come up with a comprehensive solution anchoring permanent solidarity.”

He further explained that the EU’s external borders needed to be managed effectively and humanely and that the Schengen area will only survive if member states under pressure are not abandoned

“The management of our external borders is a collective responsibility and must be based on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust and solidarity.”

Schulz added that Turkey should be given support to help look after the two million Syrian refugees it is hosting but he also voiced concerns about the political situation in the country.

Speaking ahead of the summit, French President Francois Hollande said that he couldn’t accept visa liberalization in Turkey, merely to help retaining refugees.

“In this way, visas could be granted to persons whose identity is not exactly known or cannot be verified. There will be a process which will suppose a lot of conditions. It is normal to discuss with Turkey but France, with other countries, will be very careful that the conditions can be put and respected,” Hollande said.

Earlier today, Turkey proposed to the European Union to bring forward a visa liberalization plan for its citizens.  Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Ankara has offered the EU to seal a visa liberalization agreement by the first half of 2016 instead of in 2017 as originally planned before agreeing to take back illegal migrants who enter the EU through its territory.

Talking about Syria, Schulz said a major diplomatic initiative was needed as the country was “the world’s largest humanitarian disaster.”

Schulz also called on member states to step up their efforts to create a banking union and he added that he had been in regular touch with UK Prime Minister David Cameron about the UK’s EU reform negotiations.

“As I have said in the past, the European Parliament is open to any proposal for improving the European Union.”

David Cameron says he will "quicken the pace" of his EU reform negotiations

UK Prime minister David Cameron
UK Prime minister David Cameron

UK prime minister David Cameron says he will "quicken the pace" of his EU reform negotiations and that he will set out his key demands at the start of November.

Earlier Mr Schulz called for "clarity" while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Britain needed to "clarify the substance" of what it wanted.

The BBC reports that Cameron wants to reform the EU ahead of the UK's in-out referendum.

Cameron said the British renegotiation was "going well" and pointed to the progress of the UK legislation paving the way for the referendum.

"The pace will now quicken, and I'll be again setting out the four vital areas where we need change, laying down what those changes will be at the start of November," he said.

"So we quicken the pace and quicken those negotiations in the run-up to the December Council."