Yesterday, EU leaders met to debate on long-term relations with Russia, on cooperation with third countries to reduce illegal migration and on the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA).

Regarding migration, the first point on the agenda, the European Council remarked the importance of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation in strengthening control of the external borders as well as internal border controls.

EU leaders called for a adoption of the revised Schengen Borders Code enforcing systematic controls on all travellers crossing EU external borders and called on the Council to establish its position on an entry/exit system before the end of 2016.

They stated that efforts had been made to strengthen illegal migration prevention along the Central Mediterranean route and to tighten control of the Eastern Mediterranean route.

They mentioned:

  • the importance of continuing to work towards the implementation of a Partnership Framework of cooperation with countries of origin or transit;
  • the need to tackle the root causes of migration in the region,
  • the contribution of the Valletta Action Plan;
  • the need for further efforts to accelerate returns from the Greek islands to Turkey, in line with the EU-Turkey statement;
  • The need for further progresses on the full range of commitments vis-à-vis all Member States contained in the EU-Turkey statement, including the issue of visa liberalisation

Regarding the second issue on the agenda, the European Council strongly condemned the attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, notably Russia, on civilians in Aleppo.

“EU leaders are considering all available options, should the current atrocities continue. Everything should be done to extend the ceasefire, bring in humanitarian aid to the civilian population and create the conditions for opening negotiations on a political transition in Syria.” as yesterday press release states.

Today, the meeting chaired by Donald Tusk will discuss trade issues mainly aimed at trade policy benefitting from open markets, including the future of CETA agreement.