The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, today set out at the European Parliament plenary what can be expected at this week’s European Council (17-18 December). Setting out the comprehensive package of measures to strengthen the European Union’s external borders that the Commission adopted yesterday, President Juncker said, “We want to defend everything that Schengen represents, and as we prepare for a new year, our determination is stronger than ever. So let me tell you: Schengen is here to stay.” In its latest response to the refugee crisis, the Commission is proposing a new European Border and Coast Guard. “We Europeans no longer have many borders – we have one and we have a shared responsibility to protect it,” said President Juncker. Underlining the principle of shared responsibility, the President made it clear that “Member States will continue to keep their competence and sovereignty on their borders. They will continue to manage the external border day to day. The European Border and Coast Guard will assess migratory flows across the whole of the Union, identify our weak spots, and require Member States to take action when needed. Member States will be able to request joint operations and rapid border interventions. But where urgent problems persist and no action is taken, the Commission will assume its responsibility for the system as a whole and take together with the Member States appropriate decisions for the European Border and Coast Guard to intervene. If there is a serious problem at our external border, we cannot stand aside and do nothing. We have to act.” President Juncker called on the European Parliament and Council to treat the proposals as a matter of urgency. The President’s speech can be found here.
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