President Juncker welcomes European Council progress on protecting the EU’s external borders and commitments to safeguard Schengen

Progress was made last night on the management of the refugee crisis, in particular on the protection of the EU’s external borders. The European Council notably agreed on the importance to protect Schengen as a major achievement of the European Union, including by ensuring systematic security checks at its external borders with relevant databases, and to address deficiencies as regards hotspots, relocation and returns. Leaders also agreed to rapidly examine the Commission’s proposals of 15 December 2015, including the European Border and Coast Guard, the targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code, a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme for refugees from Turkey, and travel documents for returns. In the press conference following the first day of the summit, President Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed a broad positive response from leaders on the Commission’s proposals for a European Border and Coast Guard and the commitment to adopt all texts under the Dutch Presidency of the Council, by the end of June 2016. He also reiterated the need for implementing swiftly the decisions already taken and to reach agreement on the list of safe countries. He reminded of the Commission’s intention to come forward with proposals on a revision of the Dublin system and on legal migration in the first half of 2016. The European Council also held a substantive political exchange of views on UK plans for an EU membership referendum after which they agreed to work closely together to find mutually satisfactory solutions in all four areas by the 2016 February European Council.