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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

EU - European Commission: State of the Union Speech, Press Release - The Refugees Crisis; A new start for Greece; A Fair deal for Britain; Ukraine; Climate Change; Cyprus; Farmers.

Read the speech here

Some excerpts

A Fair Deal for Britain:

"I will seek a fair deal for Britain. I will do this for one reason and one reason alone: because I believe that the EU is better with Britain in it and that Britain is better within the EU".

"Over a year ago, when I campaigned to become President of the Commission, I made a vow that, as President, I would seek a fair deal for Britain. A deal that is fair for Britain. And that is also fair for the 27 other Member States. I want to ensure we preserve the integrity of all four freedoms of the Single Market and at the same time find ways to allow the further integration of the Eurozone to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union. To be fair to the UK, part of this deal will be to recognise the reality that not all Member States participate in all areas of EU policy. Special Protocols define the position of the UK, for instance in relation to the euro and to Justice and Home Affairs. To be fair to the other Member States, the UK's choices must not prevent them from further integration where they see fit".

A New Start for Greece:

"Since the start of the year, the talks on Greece have tested all our patience. A lot of time and a lot of trust was lost. Bridges were burnt. Words were said that cannot easily be taken back.

We saw political posturing, bickering and insults carelessly bandied about.

Too often, we saw people thinking they can impose their views without a wayward thought for another's point of view".

"For Greece, the key now is to implement the deal which was agreed. There has to be broad political ownership for this".

On Cyprus:

"I believe that walls and fences have no place in an EU Member State".

On Farmers and Milk Prices:

"I have not spoken about Europe's farmers who were protesting this week in Brussels. I agree with them that there is something wrong in a market when the price of a litre of milk is less than the price of a litre of water. But I do not believe that we can or should start micromanaging the milk market from Brussels. We should compensate the farmers who are suffering from the effects of sanctions against Russia. And this is why the Commission is putting a €500 million solidarity package for farmers on the table. And European and national competition authorities should take a close look into the structure of the market. Something has turned sour in the milk market. My impression is that we need to break some retail oligopolies".

Most important - The Refugee Crisis:

"Today we are proposing a second emergency mechanism to relocate a further 120,000 from Italy, Greece and Hungary.

This requires a strong effort in European solidarity. Before the summer, we did not receive the backing from Member States I had hoped for. But I see that the mood is turning. And I believe it is high time for this.

I call on Member States to adopt the Commission proposals on the emergency relocation of altogether 160,000 refugees at the Extraordinary Council of Interior Ministers on 14 September. We now need immediate action. We cannot leave Italy, Greece and Hungary to fare alone. Just as we would not leave any other EU Member State alone. For if it is Syria and Libya people are fleeing from today, it could just as easily be Ukraine tomorrow.

Europe has made make the mistake in the past of distinguishing between Jews, Christians, Muslims. There is no religion, no belief, no philosophy when it comes to refugees.

Do not underestimate the urgency. Do not underestimate our imperative to act. Winter is approaching – think of the families sleeping in parks and railway stations in Budapest, in tents in Traiskirchen, or on shores in Kos. What we will become of them on cold, winter nights?

Of course, relocation alone will not solve the issue. It is true that we also need to separate better those who are in clear need of international protection and are therefore very likely to apply for asylum successfully; and those who are leaving their country for other reasons which do not fall under the right of asylum. This is why today the Commission is proposing a common EU list of safe countries of origin. This list will enable Member States to fast track asylum procedures for nationals of countries that are presumed safe to live in. This presumption of safety must in our view certainly apply to all countries which the European Council unanimously decided meet the basic Copenhagen criteria for EU membership – notably as regards democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights. It should also apply to the other potential candidate countries on the Western Balkans, in view of their progress made towards candidate status.

I am of course aware that the list of safe countries is only a procedural simplification. It cannot take away the fundamental right of asylum for asylum seekers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey. But it allows national authorities to focus on those refugees which are much more likely to be granted asylum, notably those from Syria.

And this focus is very much needed in the current situation.

I also believe that beyond the immediate action needed to address current emergencies, it is time we prepare a more fundamental change in the way we deal with asylum applications – and notably the Dublin system that requires that asylum applications be dealt with by the first country of entry.

We need more Europe in our asylum policy. We need more Union in our refugee policy.

A true European refugee and asylum policy requires solidarity to be permanently anchored in our policy approach and our rules. This is why, today, the Commission is also proposing a permanent relocation mechanism, which will allow us to deal with crisis situations more swiftly in the future".


Spiegel Online International - A Continent Adrift: Juncker Proposes Fixes to EU's Broken Asylum Policies

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