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European Commission - Press release

Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting

Brussels, 27 October 2015

Progress following Western Balkans Route Leaders' Meeting

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.

Background

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.

Two implementation packages under the Agenda, on 27 May 2015 and on 9 September 2015 have already been adopted and the measures therein are starting to be deployed.

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

Web Page on the Leaders' Meeting on the Western Balkans Route

Leaders' Statement

Factsheet – The EU Civil Protection Mechanism

All press materials on the EU Migration Agenda


Annex: National Contact Points – Western Balkans Route

 

Country / Organisation

National Contact

Function

COMMISSION

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

EUROPEAN COUNCIL

Mr. Hugo BRADY

Adviser, Cabinet of the President

ALBANIA

Mr. Sander LLESHI

Adviser for security in the Cabinet of Prime Minister

AUSTRIA

Mr. Raphael STERNFELD

International Affairs Adviser, Federal Chancellery

BULGARIA

Ms. Petya PARVANOVA

Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior

GERMANY

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

GREECE

Ms. Eleni TAKOU

Chief policy adviser of the Minister of Migration

CROATIA

Ms. Maja BOGDAN

Deputy Sherpa, Government of the Republic of Croatia

HUNGARY

Mr. Tibor LAKATOS

Police Colonel, Head of the Operation Centre of the Ministry of Interior

ROMANIA

Mr. Leonard ORBAN

EU Affairs Sherpa of the President

SERBIA

Mr. Aleksandar VULIN

Minister of Social Affairs, Government coordinator for Migration Issues

SLOVENIA

Mr. Igor MALLY

EU Affairs Sherpa, Government of the Republic of Slovenia

UNHCR

Ms. Sophie MAGENNIS

Head of Policy and Support Unit

FRONTEX

Mr. David REISENZEIN

Liaison Officer

EASO

Mr. Mark CAMILLERI

Adviser to the Executive Director

 

IP/15/5924

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