Doorstep by Commissionner Avramopoulos at the JHA Council, Luxembourg 12/10/2018

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12 Oct 2018

As you know this September the Commission has proposed, first of all, the reinforcement of the European Border and Coastguard (EBCG) in order to better manage our common European borders. The second, has to do with a more effective returns policy. Of course the very important issue is the so-called new Dublin because we will be in need in for the decades to come of a common European Asylum System.

I look forward to have a good discussion today with the Ministers and I am sure at the end what will prevail is more responsibility from all Member States. The Commission has done its part. We can complete the architecture of our migration policy on the blocks we have already set up. I know, as I said, that it will be a really interesting discussion, I count a lot on the responsibility of the Ministers and I can tell you that it is not a day of big decisions.  But I believe that we shall manage to make all together a step forward. This Council is somehow a preparatory Council in view of the Summit that will take place next week. So I really look forward to working and cooperating with the Ministers.

Lastly, but for me very important, it is the moment to understand, just some months before the European elections, that all European Institutions, and we should not forget that the European Council is a very important European institution, will leave behind a great legacy for the future. Europe will be confronted with challenges in the future, we have to be better prepared, that's why our aim is to adopt a comprehensive strategy on migration, a future proof, so without knowing, without being in position to know what the future is holding for us. Europe has to be prepared in order to avoid, living the same situations, as we lived in the year 2015. During the last four years we have made great progress, definitely we are not where we were three years ago, but we have to continue on this path. And uphold the basic principles upon which Europe is built, responsibility and solidarity.

Q. When it comes to Freedom of Movement Germany and Austria have border controls – what's your assessment of that?

I always say that is the moment to stop it, because yes I understand, there are concerns and some of these concerns are justified, but we have ensured more security for our citizens during the last years, we have been cooperating with all the Member States but for me is very important to keep alive Schengen. Schengen is, as I have repeatedly said, the most tangible example, paradigm, of European Integration. So by prolonging borders controls, by reintroducing internal borders controls, somehow we undermine Schengen. Citizens of Europe must continue feel that they are free to travel around. Of course we have to replace these internal border controls with enhanced police checks. It is something that I encourage Member States to do. But it is important to go back to a normal function of Schengen.

Q. So you say it's not justified?

I say that there are some justified reasons but we cannot go on like this in the future. Because in the meantime, although some reasons are justified, we have made a great progress in preventing events from happening and even intercepting perpetrators.  Because during the last years we managed something very important, to deepen trust among Member States, to cooperate more, to exchange information,  something that was not happening before. Believe me I had to work very hard, because that's part of my portfolio. So both on migration and security we have made a great progress. But this progress has to be seen by the citizens, they must feel safe. Safety is very important, safety is one of the fundamental rights of our citizens, but equally, to feel free to travel around. I cannot imagine Europe with closed internal borders. We shall never allow Europe  to revert its past.

Have a nice day.

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