Open Eyes Opinion
Special European Council meeting: measures to manage migration flows
Friday, March 4, Vilnius – On Monday, March 7, President Dalia Grybauskaitė will travel to Brussels for a special European Council meeting to discuss how to stem migrant flows to Europe in cooperation with Turkey, preserve the functioning of the Schengen area and help EU countries confronted with the largest inflows of migrants. European leaders will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in an effort to speed up the implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan agreed.
Under this plan, Turkey is committed to stem migrant flows to Europe, ensure the return of economic migrants and fight criminal networks in a more effective way. The EU has allocated 3 billion euros for the implementation of the Action Plan and for assistance to refugees in Turkey’s territory. However, more than 120 thousand people have already come to Europe from Turkey since the beginning of the year.
According to the President, the migration crisis will become manageable only when the flows of migrants are halted at the EU’s external borders. Until this is done, individual countries are forced to take national measures – to restore internal border controls, as has already been done by Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium. This creates a threat to the Schengen area which ensures the free movement of persons. There is also a risk of humanitarian crisis posed by the refugees stranded in Greece.
Dalia Grybauskaitė emphasized that an agreement with Turkey is important for Lithuania, too. The migration route is constantly changing, and our country is at the EU’s external border. Therefore, the management of migrant arrivals in Turkey is the best way to ensure that chaotic migration flows do not reach Lithuania.
In Brussels, leaders will discuss the European Commission’s proposals on how to preserve the Schengen area. The President points out that all EU countries must apply the Schengen rules consistently and must not allow illegal migrants and people without documents to cross borders. Asylum seekers cannot dictate their terms to the EU or select a host country.
The heads of the EU countries will focus on humanitarian aid to Greece and other member states facing the largest migration inflows. This year, a proposed amount of 300 million euros will be made available to help countries handle the difficult humanitarian situation caused by the influx of migrants. A total of 700 million euros would be allocated from the EU budget for this purpose over a three-year period.
European leaders will also discuss how to speed up the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy. According to the President, slow bureaucratic procedures, the absence of properly functioning registration centers, and the refusal of refugees to go to certain countries impede their resettlement. Therefore, it is irresponsible to talk about new commitments until these obstacles are eliminated and the existing agreements are implemented.
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