This Sunday, upon the initiative of President Juncker, leaders representing Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia met in Brussels at the Commission. They agreed to improve cooperation and step up consultation between the countries along the route and decided on pragmatic operational measures that could be implemented immediately to tackle the refugee crisis in the region.
All 12 leaders – including the President of the Commission – agreed to nominate contact points within 24 hours to allow daily exchanges and coordination to achieve the gradual, controlled and orderly movement of persons along the Western Balkans route and to monitor the implementation of the 17-point plan agreed on Sunday. A day later, all leaders have made good on their commitment and have nominated contact points (see Annex). President Juncker named the Diplomatic Advisor in his Cabinet as the contact point for the Commission. On Thursday 29 October, the Commission will organise a plenary videoconference of all contacts points to check the progress made.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Last week, we saw countries waving through refugees from one country, to the other. We saw fingers being pointed at each other; and we saw countries talking about but not with each other. This is why I convened a meeting of Heads of State and Government from the affected countries along the Western Balkans migratory route in Brussels. Sunday was a day of unity. For the first time, the leaders of the Western Balkans sat together around a table and discussed the problems they are facing. And they agreed on a series of concrete and operational actions to better manage the situation."
Leaders also committed yesterday to increasing the capacity to provide temporary shelter, rest, food, health, water and sanitation to all in need, triggering the EU Civil Protection Mechanism where necessary. A day later, Croatia has activated the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism for material support such as winter tents, beds, blankets, mattresses and sanitary equipment, to help cope with the large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in the country.
In addition, the European Commission has today decided to increase the level of co-financing for transport of the assistance delivered via the EU Civil protection Mechanism for the countries needing help in the refugee crisis from 55% to 85%. Serbia, Slovenia and most recently Croatia have activated the mechanism in recent weeks for material support such as tents, blankets, sanitary equipment and other essentials to help refugees this winter.
The Commission also yesterday awarded €5.9 million in emergency assistance to Greece from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to support the country in coping with the high number of arrivals of migrants and refugees on the Eastern Aegean islands.
The Commission will continue to monitor the implementation of the commitments undertaken on Sunday, as well as those taken at the past two European Councils.
The European Commission has been consistently and continuously working for a coordinated European response on the refugees and migration front.
Upon taking office, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker entrusted a Commissioner with special responsibility for Migration – Dimitris Avramopoulos – to work together with the other Commissioners, coordinated by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, on a new policy on migration as one of the 10 priorities of the Political Guidelines, the political programme based on which the European Parliament elected the Commission.
On 13 May 2015, the European Commission presented its European Agenda on Migration, setting out a comprehensive approach for improving the management of migration in all its aspects.
On Wednesday 21 October, President Juncker called for a Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route to address the emergency situation unfolding along this route.
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. The President of the European Parliament and the President of the European Council, the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU, the future Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees were in attendance. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) were also represented.
For More Information
All press materials on the EU Migration Agenda
Annex: National Contact Points – Western Balkans Route
Country / Organisation
Mr. Richard SZOSTAK
Diplomatic Adviser, Cabinet of the President
PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL
Mr. Pascal SCHUMACHER
Adviser, Permanent Representation of Luxembourg to the EU
FUTURE PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL
Mr. Alexander SOREL
Adviser, Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU
Mr. Hugo BRADY
Adviser, Cabinet of the President
Mr. Sander LLESHI
Adviser for security in the Cabinet of Prime Minister
Mr. Raphael STERNFELD
International Affairs Adviser, Federal Chancellery
Ms. Petya PARVANOVA
Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior
Mr. Uwe CORSEPIUS
European Policy Adviser, Federal Chancellery
Former YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
Ms. Anastasija ILIESKA
State Secretary, Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Macedonia
Ms. Eleni TAKOU
Chief policy adviser of the Minister of Migration
Ms. Maja BOGDAN
Deputy Sherpa, Government of the Republic of Croatia
Mr. Tibor LAKATOS
Police Colonel, Head of the Operation Centre of the Ministry of Interior
Mr. Leonard ORBAN
EU Affairs Sherpa of the President
Mr. Aleksandar VULIN
Minister of Social Affairs, Government coordinator for Migration Issues
Mr. Igor MALLY
EU Affairs Sherpa, Government of the Republic of Slovenia
Ms. Sophie MAGENNIS
Head of Policy and Support Unit
Mr. David REISENZEIN
Mr. Mark CAMILLERI
Adviser to the Executive Director