Leaders meeting at the invitation of President Juncker on Sunday 25 October have committed to take immediate operational actions to address the unfolding emergency in the countries along the Western Balkansmigratory route.
President Juncker said: "Countries affected should not only talk about each other and at each other, but also with each other. Neighbours should work together not against each other. Refugees need to be treated in a humane manner along the length of the Western Balkans route to avoid a humanitarian tragedy in Europe. I am therefore pleased that today we were able to jointly agree on a 17-point plan of pragmatic and operational measures to ensure people are not left to fend for themselves in the rain and cold."
The operational actions agreed upon concern three main challenges.
1. Providing Shelter
The immediate imperative is to provide shelter and ensure refugees and migrants along the Western Balkans route are treated in a humane manner.
- Leaders commit to providing temporary shelter, food, health care, water and sanitation. Where national capacities fall short, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism should be triggered.
- Reception capacities will be increased to 100.000 places:
- Leaders welcome Greece's intention to increase reception capacity to 30,000 places by the end of the year and commit to supporting Greece and UNHCR to provide rent subsidies and host family programmes for at least 20,000 more.
- The UNHCR has committed to support efforts in improving capacities. An additional capacity of 50,000 would allow for a better and more predictable management of the flow on the Western Balkans route.
- The UNHCR will lend its full support to these efforts, increasing the provision of humanitarian support to those in need.
2. Managing the migration flows together
The only way to restore order to the situation is to slow down the uncontrolled flows of people.
- Leaders commit to sharing information about flows and,
- refrain from taking unilateral decisions whose effects are inevitably borne by others. To facilitate this, all will appoint by tomorrow national contact points at high governmental level to exchange information.
3. Border management
Leaders commit to increase the coordination of their actions relating to border management. This includes:
- Immediate bilateral border-related confidence-building measures, in particular, the strengthening of border cooperation, between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
- The deployment in Slovenia within a week of 400 police officers and essential equipment, through bilateral support.
Attending the Leaders' Meeting were the Heads of State or Government of Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, in the presence of the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Council, the current and incoming presidencies of the Council of the European Council, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) were also represented.
- Press release - Meeting on the Western Balkans Migration Route: Leaders Agree on 17-point plan of action
- Video - Joint press conference by President Juncker, German Chancellor Merkel and UNHCR António Guterres
- President Juncker calls Leaders' Meeting in Brussels on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route