European Council President Spokesperson
Today, I addressed the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions and had a good discussion with members about the key challenges facing the European Union. Cities, local communities and regions have some of the toughest jobs in Europe right now, most obviously the effort to receive and integrate people in need of international protection. Local leaders also face the task of avoiding the creation of ghettos and assisting in the fight against radicalisation in their neighbourhoods.
We cannot integrate newcomers properly while there are massive, uncontrolled migration flows across our external border. National and European politicians must now do what is necessary to end this and bring stability. This is the chief task of the next few weeks. Not only to secure the future of Schengen, but also to ensure the future cohesion of our local communities.
We must support our localities, also at the European level: from the Greek islands to Germany's cities; from the Mezzogiorno to Calais. The Committee of Regions is already very active on the migration question and works well with the institutions on radicalisation issues, where their input is particularly important.
On Britain: I am in a process of intensive talks about my proposal for the UK settlement.
I am confident that this is a balanced and solid proposal and I hope to finalise it next week in the European Council. However let me be clear, this is a very fragile political process. Therefore I have decided to cancel all my obligations and will hold a number of meetings with EU leaders and with the European Parliament in order to help reach an agreement.
And so this week I will pay a visit to the Belgian prime minister and will meet the Members of the European Parliament who are responsible for these negotiations. I have already spoken to President Schulz on this matter and we agree that the role of the Parliament in this process is very important. Next week I will visit several capitals to meet EU leaders and discuss my proposal. I will see President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, the Prime Minister of Greece, the President of Romania and the Czech prime minister, who holds the presidency of the Visegrad Group. The aim of my consultations it to secure a broad political support for my proposal.
On top of this, President Markkula and I have agreed to re-instate the so-called territorial dialogue ahead of the March European Council so that the regional perspective is more present in decision-making at the highest level. Looking ahead, I believe there is a key role for the Committee of the Regions to act both as an advisory body and a network for exchanging the best ideas, not only on migration and integration but in other areas too, for example climate change and energy security.
Today, I invited President Markkula and the Committee of the Regions to work step by step with the European Council and the other institutions to build a better European Union. I have every confidence that it will.