Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the first session of the European Council meeting

European Council
  • 26/06/2015
  • 03:30
  • Press release
  • 529/15
  • Home Affairs
  • Euro area
  • Institutional affairs
26/06/2015
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Preben Aamann
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As you know there is not yet an agreement between Greece and the Institutions and hence no agreement in the Eurogroup. That is why I asked the President of the Eurogroup to brief leaders on the state of negotiations with Greece. Leaders had a long discussion and are fully aware of the situation and potential consequences. We agree on our support for the Institutions and the current process of negotiations. Leaders have agreed there is no need for another Euro Summit, not tomorrow or over the weekend. Leaders expect the Eurogroup to conclude this process at their meeting on Saturday.

Today, we had a very long discussion on migration. In our search for a new European consensus on migration, today's decisions on return policy are the first step. Migrants with no legal right to enter the EU must be returned.

The Spanish experience on return was shared by Prime Minister Rajoy. In the past, Spain was faced with a large wave of illegal migrants to the Canary Islands, and yet it managed to prevent this wave. Europe is learning from such experiences.

Today, leaders agreed to accelerate readmission negotiations with the third countries and to fully implement EU rules on returns. We also agreed to use our trade and development agreements on the basis of the 'more for more' principle. Finally, Frontex will get more powers to help return illegal migrants. The Commission was tasked to deliver.

We also need solidarity with frontline countries. Leaders agreed that 40,000 persons in need will be relocated from Greece and Italy to other states over the next two years. Interior ministers will finalise the scheme by the end of July. And another 20,000 will be resettled. So that is a total of 60,000 persons in need of protection. 

I am also convinced that there will  be no solidarity on relocation so long as migrants are not properly registered. The EU can help with logistical and financial support. Respect for our rules is a must. If the rules are not respected by everyone, Schengen will be at risk.

The current crisis concerns not only Italy and Greece. Since the beginning of the year, a third of asylum seekers have been registered in Hungary - that is more than in Italy. Our approach needs to be geographically comprehensive.

Finally, the British Prime Minister set out his plans for an in/out referendum. So the talks on UK renegotiation will now get underway. It was the first step in a longer process that will also end at the European Council. As I said earlier today one thing should be clear from the very beginning: the fundamental values of the European Union are not for sale and so are non-negotiable. We should consider British concerns, but only in a way which will be safe for all Europe. We will come back to this in December.