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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos during his visit in Slovenia

Ljubljana, 22 October 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me first thank Vesna Györkös Žnidar for the warm welcome and for the constructive conversation we had.

It is not always easy to take the right decisions in these kinds of moments. Actions have to be taken in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility. And I would like to commend Slovenia for acting in this spirit.

Receiving and registering migrants and offering them shelter, lifting internal Schengen border controls – these are the RIGHT things to do and they are fully in-line with the EU law.

The Commission stands by Slovenia and we are ready to assist the country, both technically and financially.

Specifically, we are offering support and assistance in 2 concrete ways:

Firstly, we are ready to consider deploying migration management support teams in Slovenia, to help the authorities with the management of the increasing migratory flows. The combined efforts of the EU Agencies and of the national authorities can help to bring order in the situation very rapidly: by registering, fingerprinting and processing all new arrivals.

It is important that Member States use the existing tools at their full potential to avoid secondary movements. This is CRUCIAL if we want to preserve the Schengen system with all its benefits.

Not taking up responsibility leads precisely to the situation that we are seeing now here but also in neighbouring countries.

We need a joint European response, and this means that everyone needs to play by the rules.

All have to cooperate and show solidarity – with each other, and with each other's neighbours, both EU and non-EU.

Secondly, existing EU funds can significantly help Slovenia - and its neighbours - to deal with this situation. The European Commission is already offering 56 million euros to Slovenia for 2014-2020 to deal with its migration and security challenges.

But we stand ready to help, should Slovenia request additional emergency funding.

Of course, this is not just about Slovenia. Slovenia, like all the countries on or around the Western Balkans route, are under unprecedented migratory pressure, and the European Commission will leave no stone unturned to offer and coordinate concrete solutions to the problems on the ground.

The Leaders meeting this Sunday, called by President Juncker, to discuss the refugee flows along the Western Balkans route, is one more example of the Commission's commitment and determination.

The meeting is the response to the Slovenian request for a coordinated approach mediated by Commission.

The meeting will gather the Heads of State or Government of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia with the aim to discuss shared challenges and reach operational conclusions to be implemented immediately.

This meeting is an important step towards a more common and coordinated approach to the refugee crisis in this region.

And let me be clear: we urgently need a common approach.

Winter is already here: there is no question that all countries have a duty to protect and harbour these human beings in desperate need of help.

We are talking about people who have been on the road for weeks or months, trying to reach Europe to find shelter from war and persecution.

But no country can do this alone.

It is time for all to take responsibility and to start delivering and cooperating.

Finally I wish to commend Slovenia for its continuous demonstration of respect to the European rules.


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