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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Speech by President Juncker at the EP Plenary – Preparation of the European Council meeting of 17-18 December 2015

Strasbourg, 16 December 2015

Sehr verehrter Herr Präsident, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The main issues of discussion for tomorrow's European Council will be the management of the refugee crisis, the implementation of our security agenda and the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union.

 

I said it in the State of the Union speech on 9 September, and I want to repeat it, this is no time for business as usual. No time for half-measures, no time for hesitation.

I announced plans for a European Border and Coast Guard and here we are. The Commission has now agreed those plans, and I call on the Parliament and the Council to treat them as a matter of urgency. We have no time to lose when it comes to preserving the Schengen area of free movement. For this, effective management of our external borders must be a priority.

The Commission is not the government of the European Union, but when the situation requires so, when there are threats to our system, we have to take our responsibility and prepare a collective response.

We have done this for the banking system by transferring preventive and remedial mechanisms and instruments were transferred to the European level – because a crisis showed that national authorities could not be left alone.

The proposal we have put forward yesterday, under the leadership of my good friend Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos, for a European Border and Coast Guard follows the same logic. It will bring the missing link to strengthen our external borders, so that people can continue to live and move freely within our Union.

We Europeans no longer have many borders – we have one and we have a shared responsibility to protect it.

The European Border and Coast Guard is not the answer to a new need. The European Border and Coast Guard is there to repair a weakness of our Schengen system. We are completing what should have been done from the start.

Member States will continue to keep their competence and sovereignty on their borders. They will continue to manage the external border day to day. The European Border and Coast Guard will assess migratory flows across the whole of the Union, identify our weak spots, and require Member States to take action when needed.

Member States will be able to request joint operations and rapid border interventions. But where urgent problems persist and no action is taken, the Commission will assume its responsibility for the system as a whole and take together with the Member States appropriate decisions for the European Border and Coast Guard to intervene. If there is a serious problem at our external border, we cannot stand aside and do nothing. We have to act.

The Commission proposes to establish a permanent staff of 1,000 and a reserve pool of at least 1,500 experts who can be deployed within 72 hours.

A new European Return Office within the new Agency will accelerate the return of irregular migrants by deploying teams of specialists across the Union. A new standard travel document for return will ensure wider acceptance of returnees by third countries.

 

All of you know my views on Schengen but to avoid any doubt, let me be absolutely clear. Under my leadership we will do everything possible to protect what we have built – and to make it better and to make it stronger.

We want to defend everything that Schengen represents, and as we prepare for a new year, our determination is stronger than ever. So let me tell you: Schengen is here to stay.

This is why the Commission proposes to strengthen the Schengen Border Code so that every person entering the Schengen area – whether they are an EU national or a third country national – will undergo a security check against national and European databases. And checks on all individuals will now be mandatory when exiting the European Union as well. These are the costs of a riskier world, and we cannot avoid them.

Tomorrow, I will call on the European Council to respond positively and urgently to all of these proposals.

Here, I want to thank, Mr President, this House for its support over the course of this year. This Parliament worked closely with the Commission when it mattered most. You responded quickly and diligently to all of our proposals, and I count on your support as we continue our work together.

The refugee crisis does not begin at Europe's borders. Last month, we opened a new chapter in our relations with Turkey, a country that already hosts 2.2 million refugees – more than any other country in the world. The situation demands that we work together.

Yesterday, the Commission adopted a Recommendation for a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme for refugees from Syria who are currently in Turkey. If our neighbour is facing a humanitarian emergency, then we have a duty to help. All 28 Member States have worked on this proposal, but it remains voluntary – those Member States that want to help can do so and I hope that all the 28 are ready to help.

 

Mr President, when I came to you in September, Europe was not in good shape. Our governments were very busy blaming each other, or pointing the finger at Brussels. The situation required urgent action.

On 23 September, the Commission adopted a Communication outlining the immediate operational, budgetary and legal measures under the European Agenda on Migration. We concluded that the implementation of European Union Law with regard to building a Common European Asylum System had been proceeding too slowly in the Member States. As a result, on 14 October, we presented a Communication setting out the next steps for the coming next six months.

In particular, the Commission called on Greece and Italy to roll-out the remaining hotspots, to operationalise those existing, to improve the registration capacity within the EURODAC fingerprinting system and to organise the swift transfers of migrants from hotspot areas to second-line reception facilities.

The situation in Greece and in Italy has improved, but there are still remaining things to be done. This is why I convened the leaders of the Western Balkans – to bring everyone round the table and to start a conversation. As a result, our officials now talk on a daily basis and coordinate actions across the whole of the region.

I know that it will take some time before we fully control every aspect of the situation. But we are moving in the right direction.

The European Union's humanitarian assistance to the Western Balkans now stands at 22 million euros, helping to give comfort and restore dignity to thousands of refugees along that route.

But make no mistake. Progress is still too slow, and our Member States need to do more, and they need to do it quickly. While they accelerate relocations and returns, they must also agree the crisis relocation mechanism so that – in the future – Europe can react more quickly.

They need to agree the safe countries of origin, so that we can increase the efficiency of the asylum system and speed up the return of irregular migrants.

They need to match the funding that the European Union has mobilised for the Syria Trust Fund.

And they need to deliver everything agreed at the Valletta Summit, where we launched a new partnership with our African neighbours.

We need to honour all of our commitments, and we need to do it now. This is the message I will take once again to the European Council tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

 

Monsieur le Président, mesdames et messieurs,

Les Européens veulent pouvoir continuer à vivre en sécurité dans un espace où la libre circulation contribue à leur façon de vivre, d'étudier et de travailler.

Mais les images qui ont marqué cette année 2015 et resteront gravées dans leur mémoire, comme nous l´ont prouvé les récents événements à Paris - rappellent que le pire est toujours possible.

Chaque jour à travers l'Europe, 24 heures sur 24, des hommes et des femmes, qu'ils soient policiers, gendarmes, magistrats ou juges, sont entièrement dévoués à assurer la sécurité de nos citoyens.

Nous avons l'obligation de faciliter leur travail en leur donnant les outils nécessaires pour qu'ils puissent mieux coordonner leurs actions dans ce qui est pour eux un combat de tous les jours.

Bien sûr la sauvegarde de la sécurité est une prérogative nationale. Mais il est évident qu'une meilleure coordination au niveau européen s'impose, y compris pour ce qui est de la collaboration entre les services secrets. Le terrorisme ne connaît aucune frontière, et donc notre réponse doit être globale.

Et quoi qu'en disent certains, qui se livrent à de dangereux amalgames, les terroristes voyageant vers l'Europe préfèrent le confort des avions à la précarité d'embarcations de fortune. Je me réjouis donc que nous soyons enfin parvenus à un accord sur le registre européen des passagers et je remercie tous les acteurs du Parlement européen qui ont travaillé dur pour ce résultat.

Selon l'agence Europol, quelque 5,000 Européens seraient partis combattre dans des pays comme la Syrie ou l'Irak, certains d'entre eux sont déjà rentrés et, parmi eux, quelques-uns se sont attaqués avec une violence inouïe aux sociétés qui les ont vus naître et qui les ont vus grandir. Face à ce phénomène, nous devons adapter et intensifier l'arsenal juridique de l'Union européenne en matière de prévention et répression des actes terroristes y compris pour ce qui touche au financement des activités terroristes. C´est là tout l'objet de la nouvelle directive présentée par la Commission sur la lutte contre le terrorisme que j'espère voir être adoptée rapidement.

Dans tous les cas, nous ne devons jamais oublier que liberté et sécurité ne sont pas antinomiques. Préserver et défendre cette compatibilité entre liberté et sécurité, c'est aussi ce qui fait notre façon de vivre ensemble; c'est une question d'identité, c´est une question de valeurs.

 

Puisque, Monsieur le Président, le Conseil européen sera aussi l'occasion de discuter de l'Union économique et monétaire et du marché intérieur, c'est l'occasion de rappeler que la liberté va aussi de pair avec la prospérité. L'innovation, la croissance, l'emploi, la compétitivité n'aiment pas les frontières.

Lorsque nous avons un problème dans un de nos pays, nous devons essayer d'apporter une réponse globale aux problèmes de ces pays. Lorsque nous avons le même problème dans plusieurs pays, nous avons l'obligation d'agir. Je le dis notamment en relation avec la situation grave dans laquelle se trouve la sidérurgie européenne ces jours-ci.

Ce n'est pas en se repliant sur soi que l'Europe pourra répondre aux attentes des Européens qui veulent pouvoir créer une entreprise, trouver les financements y afférents, avoir à leur disposition des marchés ouverts, des systèmes de communication et de transport performants, des approvisionnements énergétiques sûrs et des factures énergétiques bon marché.

C'est pourquoi nous avons, lorsque nous avons présenté notre programme de travail, insisté sur la nécessité qu'il y avait de parfaire notre marché intérieur là où il est imparfait, et le parachever là où il est incomplet; faire l'Union du numérique, l'Union des marchés des capitaux, l'Union de l'énergie.

Et je me réjouis de l'accord qui a été trouvé récemment à Paris, dit accord climatique, qui nous permettra de progresser sur les objectifs fixés par l'Union de l'énergie tout en renforçant notre contribution financière pour l’action climatique dans les pays en voie de développement.

 

Sehr verehrter Herr Präsident,

ein abschließendes Wort zur Europäischen Union und zu ihrer absehbaren Zukunft.

In Europa war nie etwas einfach. Und in Europa wird es nie einfach sein, Dinge und Menschen, Menschen und Dinge zusammen zu bringen. Aber immer wieder – wenn es Probleme gab – sind Männer und Frauen aufgestanden, weil sie nicht Geschichte erdulden wollten, sondern weil sie Geschichte gestalten wollten. So war es immer. Und so wird das bleiben. Das Unmögliche erscheint so lange unmöglich bis es gemacht ist.

Vielen Dank.

SPEECH/15/6346


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