Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Tusk: 'Easy access' to EU is main lure for migrants

  • Tusk (r) says the EU faces millions more potential refugees (Photo: Consillium)

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who represents EU member states, said the ease of getting into Europe is the main pull factor for migrants.

"Let us be clear about one thing. The exceptionally easy access to Europe is one of the main pull factors", Tusk said in a letter on Tuesday (13 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The four-and-a-half-year war in Syria has displaced 7.6 million inside the country and sent over 4 million fleeing to neighbouring countries.

The United Nations, for its part, says developing countries host over 86 percent of the world's refugees.

But Tusk, a former conservative prime minister of Poland, warned that Europe must be ready for millions of new arrivals following the winter months ahead.

"Even if the influx of refugees slows down during winter, we must be ready for spring and the threat of bigger waves flowing to Europe", he said.

He had made similar comments in late September.

According to the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration, just under 600,000 people managed to reach the EU this year, and over 3,100 people are either missing or dead in their attempt to do so.

Addressed to EU leaders ahead of an summit in Brussels at the end of this week, Tusk's letter sets out priority discussion points.

He said talks should narrow in on beefing up external borders and the setting up of an EU-wide border guard system.

On the EU's asylum system under Dublin, which determines who is responsible for processing applications, he said they should discuss "whether to keep it as it is or to look for alternatives."

Tusks also wants to debate the "specific role" of so-called hotspots in Italy and Greece ,where new arrivals are separated before either being turned back or sent on to other EU member states.

The hotspot scheme is part of a larger plan to relocate 160,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers for the next two years.

The scheme had faced stiff opposition from some EU leaders who objected to their distribution into a population of over 500 million.

In the meantime, the first batch of some 20 Eritreans arrived in Sweden from Italy last week. Finland is soon set to receive 150, according to the Finnish Immigration Service.

Turkey will also be a key talking point. It hosts over 2 million Syrian refugees.

Last week, Tusk met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Brussels to discuss a broader action plan on stemming the flow of people from Turkey into the EU.

The EU wants Turkey to step up surveillance and crack down on people-smuggling gangs. But Turkey is pushing for a 'safe zone' in northern Syria amid Western and Russian airstrikes.

"Turkey is calling on us to support the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria, whereas Russia - increasingly engaged in Syria - is openly rejecting this idea", said Tusk.

The EU is ready to mobilise up to €1 billion to help Turkey cope with its refugees.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

News in Brief

  1. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  2. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  3. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  4. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  5. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  6. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  7. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  8. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  2. European far-right political party risks collapse
  3. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  4. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  5. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  6. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  7. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  8. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums