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Weekend coverage of European Council’s conclusions

Over the last three days, media outlets continue to provide various news and comments on the migration situation, mainly still focusing on the latest European Council meeting’s outcome. The WSJE, among others, say that European leaders vowed to accelerate the implementation of already-agreed measures to tackle the refugee crisis, though stopped short of unveiling any new proposals on migration at the final EU summit of the year.

Cypriot media note that the EU28 leaders will agree within six months on the new European border and coast guard (EBCG), which will have greater responsibilities, as well as the main control of the EU’s external borders. The Conclusions of Friday’s meeting describe the curb of migration flows as “non-satisfactory” and underlines that it needs to be expedited. EU member states are called to take immediate action on the guarding of their external borders, the creation of hotspots, the implementation of the resettlement system, as well as the readmissions agreements.

Most of today’s commentaries express criticism of Brussels’s migration policy saying that last week’s meeting ends without major decisions. Referring to last Thursday and Friday’s European summit, SME’s Peter Schutz stresses that no agreement has been reached regarding the EU border protection agency and that the decision on the matter was postponed to 2016. This step shows that disagreements regarding competencies and functioning of the agency are so profound that politicians were afraid to set an earlier date. According to Mr Schutz, it is the responsibility and duty of EU leaders to prevent an escalation which might lead to spontaneous disintegration of not just the Schengen area.

De Zevende Dag spoke with MEP Annemans, arguing that Europe’s open border policy is the problem and advocates a revision of the Geneva Convention as well as a suspension of Schengen. For FAZ, Professor Paul Scheffer considers that, in order to keep from losing the moral authority in Europe, liberals may have to compromise on the question of border controls. He calls for a more realistic debate that weighs the benefits and challenges of immigration against one another without allowing populists and xenophobes to gain the other hand. However, it will require effective protection of Europe´s outer borders, he further notes.

Along the same lines, Researcher Nicolai von Ondarza points out that public opposition to the EU is strengthened due to the differences among the EU member states on migration issues and that it has made it difficult to achieve results, notes Information.

In other news concerning the European Council meeting, Kathimerini notes that Greek PM Alexis Tsipras met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of that meeting. Mr Tsipras told Ms Merkel that the reception centres for the refugees’ temporary stay on the Greek territory will be ready within the next two months. He also made clear that Greece wishes to utilise Frontex’s aid. The Greek PM further underlined that, in order to overcome the refugee and migrant crisis, a mechanism for the relocation of refugees from Turkey to other European countries should be established, in order to by-pass the smugglers’ networks.

Attention is also paid to EC President Juncker. Aujourd’hui en France, for instance, reports on President Juncker’s proposal to create a European corps of border and coast guards, a reform planned to be adopted within a year. Under this new system, Frontex would be renamed to become the European agency of border guards and coast guards. Its personnel would be increased from 400 to 1,000 over five years, with an additional 1,500-guard reserve. The agency’s budget would be doubled, from €143 million to €322 million.

Meanwhile, The INYT reports that the anti-migration rhetoric adopted by Hungary since the start of the European refugee crisis, initially criticised by many for being too harsh, is gradually becoming more accepted across the continent. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban’s solutions, notably the need to secure Greece’s porous coastline and seal Europe’s outer borders, have been slowly embraced by other EU leaders, who vowed on Thursday, at their final summit meeting of 2015, to ”regain control” of the continent’s frontiers.



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