“Today’s early-morning agreement of the European Council on migration is a step forward to build a stronger future of Europe. We have avoided the worse, now it’s time to walk the walk,” said the President of EESC Luca Jahier 

“Despite a very tense debate on migration, EU leaders put on the same level not only the effective control of EU’s external borders, but also an “increased external action and the internal aspects, in line with our principles and values.

The line on principles and values is paramount if we want to continue building the European project. Responsibility goes hand in hand with solidarity, otherwise there is no Union.

In fact, migration flows and, more in particular, the number of illegal migrants has been severely brought down since 2015 (more than 90%). Europe is and has been part of the solution.

The European Council has declared its commitment to make sure that the uncontrolled flows of 2015 will not be repeated, although we can predict that the migration pressure on Europe will continue and that it will not stop.

It is indeed crucial, from a human, economic and social point of view to declare the war against the smugglers – and this war must be won!

I welcome the reference made by the Heads of State and government to create flexible instruments, in the context of the next MFF, to combat illegal migration and I also support the decision of the European Council to strengthen the role and resources of FRONTEX.

On that particular point, the EESC has already indicated his full support to the Commission’s proposal of 2 May, calling for a strong strengthening of the FRONTEX’s resources.

Nevertheless, what I really do expect from the European Council – and I know that this is a matter of concern for all the European citizens – is the approval of a solid and efficient strategy for the short but also for the medium and long term.

The revision of EU’s asylum rules is more urgent than ever. The Parliament has courageously taken a stance in proposing changes to the so-called Dublin rules. Another procrastination in changing the system will exacerbate divisions. Failing to reach an agreement is not an option.

Long-term solutions for the event that mass migrations continue or occur again in the future must be sought. That is where Europe can and has to make the difference.

Only collective action based on the principles of solidarity and shared responsibility can lead to an effective management of the challenge posed by migration.

In that sense, I strongly welcome the clear commitment of the European Council to bring the cooperation and partnership with Africa to a new level. The Heads of State and of government approved the decision of transferring 500 million Euro to the EU Trust Fund for Africa but, indeed, cooperation with Africa goes beyond a financial support.

That is why I fully support the decision of creating a new framework enabling a considerable increase of private investments from both Africans and Europeans.

If we want to address the issue of migration we must look for long term solutions and this is why yesterday’s European Council went in the right direction.”