European Council to normalize Schengen area in the next six months

EU Migration Summit: Council sets out priorities for next six months

The European Council has said that it aims to normalize the Schengen area and restore the normal process of migration management as quickly as possible, in its conclusions from last night’s EU migration summit.

The summit, also dealt with the economic and monetary union, the UK’s referendum on the EU as well as Turkey and Syria.

Among its other conclusions, the council said it also aims for a full roll-out of the Relocation Schemes and Migration Management Support Teams working in hotspot areas.

“The Support Teams will have an instant impact on the most critical point in the chain – where the most affected member states are finding the sheer number of arrivals too great to manage effectively,” the conclusions read.

According to plans, staff and national experts from other EU Member States deployed by EU agencies (Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office [EASO] and  Europol) will help identify, screen and register migrants on their entry to the EU, as well as prepare and organise the return operations for those who have no right to stay.  It added however that support teams can only work in partnership with national authorities.

As a further measure, the Council also concluded that it would increase emergency funding for the most affected member states, with the €73 million budget in the area already being exhausted, and plans for an additional €100 million to the 2015 budget in motion. The Council also added that it would increase the funding for the three EU agencies by €1.3 million to cover 60 staff for Frontex, 30 for EASO and 30 for Europol for 2015, to allow them to be more active.

The council further added that it would trigger the Civil Protection Mechanism or Rapid Border Intervention Teams, to call on immediate practical support of the EU and other EU Member States, and to step up the diplomatic offensive and intensify cooperation with third countries.

“The Valletta Summit on Migration on 11-12 November 2015 will be an opportunity to show the new priority of migration issues in the EU’s relations with African partners and the high-level conference on the western Balkans route in October 2015, will be the place to discuss the common task of tackling today's pressures and restoring stability to the management of migration via the western Balkans route.”

The EU council also added that it would be restoring funding for food aid via the World Food Programme to 2014 levels, given that most EU states have reduced their contributions to the programme, to provide immediate resources to respond to demands from UNHCR and the programme in order to help refugees immediately.

The council further added that it would increase humanitarian aid by €300 million in 2016, and increase its support for Syrian refugees to over €500 million, given that only 38% of the funding requirements for the cause have been met.

The conclusions also pointed at working with  immediate neighbours such as  Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which have hosted many Syrian refugees, with the EU ready to mobilise €1billion for Turkey and €17 million for Serbia and Macedonia to help them tackle the challenge.

The council further announced more financial aid for Africa and better implementation of EU law.

The Commission will work with the Greek authorities to prioritise a normalisation, within the next six months, of the situation since Dublin transfers were suspended in 2010. “

The EU has called for protection of the EU's borders by strengthening Frontex and enhancing its mandate, and taking ambitious steps towards establishing a European Border and Coast Guard, and a long-term, EU-wide system of resettlement and relocation, as well as a credible and effective return policy which requires better information-sharing, increased resources at both EU and national level, stepping up the role of Frontex, and a new emphasis on readmission in our relations with third countries.