On 17 December, the two-day meeting of the European Council in Brussels began with discussions on migration and the UK's EU relation.
The European Council stated that so far the measures to manage the migratory flows have been insufficient. It is indispensable to regain control over the external borders for the integrity of Schengen to be safeguarded. The European Council urged that further hotspots should be made fully operational and that concrete measures should be taken to ensure the implementation of relocation decisions and the actual return and readmission of people not authorised to stay.
- It is very important that the EU countries ensure effective control of the external borders in the Schengen area. The responsibility needs to be borne by the Member States themselves, but if a Schengen country neglected its border control, the other countries should have an opportunity to oblige the country to request assistance, said Prime Minister Juha Sipilä in reference to the European Commission's proposal on a European system of border guards.
- Over the past year, we have seen how quickly the migratory routes may change. The emergence of new routes is still probable. We must carefully monitor the development and act together, said Prime Minister Sipilä.
The European Council also had an exchange of views on the UK plans for an (in/out) referendum. The aim is that the EU member states reach an agreement in the February European Council meeting.
- I believe that we can find a compromise for the UK to stay within the EU. Finland agrees with the UK's proposal relating to competitiveness but finds the requirement to restrict the free movement of labour difficult, said Sipilä.
Inquiries: Kare Halonen, State Secretary, EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 315, Jari Haapiainen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 295 160 406 and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office