Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the European Council meeting of 15 October 2015

First of all, allow me to express cautious optimism, and I have to underline of course the word cautious. Tonight leaders took important decisions that will help secure the Union’s external borders.

We welcomed the agreement of an EU-Turkey joint action plan to tackle the current migratory crisis. Our intensified meetings with Turkish leaders here in Brussels,  Ankara, and in New York in the last couple of weeks, were devoted to one goal: stemming the migratory flows that go via Turkey to the EU. The action plan is a major step in this direction. Still, as I made clear from the very start, an agreement with Turkey makes sense only if it effectively contains the flow of refugees. Here let me thank Jean-Claude and the Commission for the great work in negotiating the action plan, it was really a demanding and difficult issue and all of us were very impressed by the effectiveness and impressive pace.

Second, we agreed to work on an integrated border management system that will go beyond the Frontex mandate. In  the coming months, the agency will be developed into a more operational body. Our aim is to give Frontex the right to return irregular migrants on its own initiative, and to make it more proactive in protecting the external borders. In the meantime, Member States will be ready to send hundreds more border guards to Frontex and EASO to secure the hotspot areas in Greece and Italy.

Progress on  genuine border security is in my opinion, a very important achievement of tonight. Not because I have advocated the need to protect the EU’s borders, but because it is our first obligation to protect the European community, and to guarantee public order. We have made a step in this direction.

Third, we also discussed broader challenges in order to be ready for a new influx of refugees next year. We had a debate on the future of the Dublin regulation, on the EU border guard system and on the specific role of hotspots. These are all divisive issues and the goal today was to  have a first serious exchange of views on them. If we are not able to find humanitarian and efficient solutions, then others will find solutions which are inhumane, nationalistic and for sure not European.

And finally on Britain: I briefed leaders on the preparatory discussions between my officials and the UK over the last months. We welcomed Prime Minister Cameron’s commitment to set out the UK’s specific concerns in writing by early November. Thank you

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