European Union Delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman

Informal video conference of EU Foreign and Home Affairs Ministers: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the press conference

Brussels, 15/03/2021 - 20:15, UNIQUE ID: 210315_25

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The internal and external strands of migration have to go hand in hand. It is quite logical, migration is a phenomenon that relates one country with other countries.

The discussion that we have had today has helped us – I think – a lot in order to understand the challenges that we are facing, the tools at our disposal and the way ahead.

Let me summarise some conclusions, which are quite evident, but it is important to mention them in order to assimilate them and incorporate them in our work.

First, we cannot look at migration policy in isolation from the overall relations with our partners. In order to achieve the results we are looking for, we need to work in partnership with the countries of origin and transit. It is impossible to solve it without a strong partnership with the countries where migration is originating and with the transit countries.

When we will be using all our tools in order to advance on migration cooperation, we have to look at the overall relations. All of them have to be considered at the same time.

Second, a comprehensive approach covering all pillars of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum is the most effective way to achieve progress on readmission and better migration management.

Third, legal migration opportunities need to be part of the equation. When we build an agreement, a partnership, it has to include legal migration issues. They are part of the equation for building comprehensive partnerships.

Legal migration removes the incentive to use dangerous irregular paths and is frequently asked by our partner countries. We need migration, but it has to be regulated. It has to be fair, secure and regulated.

Fourth, we have to support refugees and migration management. We do, but we have to do more. It is already an important area of our support and we need to continue to work to achieve lasting stability, linking our stronger engagement to the progress so that it can succeed. Engagement linked to the progress.

Finally, high-level engagement matters. Matters to achieve results. Coronavirus has been preventing us from travelling as much as needed. But it is clear that we have to continue reaching out at the ministerial level, at the highest possible level with our partners in order to coordinate our outreach.  

A strong common European Union approach will be crucial to make progress on migration issues. That is why we have decided that we cannot wait 6 more years in order to have the following meeting of Home and Foreign Affairs Ministers to talk about one issue, migration, that has an interior face and an external side. And both have to be built together.

This is our commitment and I am sure that this will help the European Union build a more robust, efficient and fair migration policy.



Q. Was there discussions on the Foreign Ministers side on whether to renew the migration pact with Turkey that was reached in March five years ago? Will this be in the hands of the leaders at the European Council?

Well, you know this [EU-Turkey] Statement remains valid. And I think it should continue to be implemented and continue to be the key framework for cooperation on migration.

This is an engagement of mutual trust and delivery that requires continuous efforts from all sides. It has been very much criticised, but I think that this Statement has produced tangible results. It has led to a significant decrease of loss of human lives, a reduction in irregular crossings, and improved the situation of refugees and migrants in Turkey. 

The figures are there. We have fully contracted €6 billion in assistance to refugees in Turkey that we pledged. More than 100 projects. I can give a lot of figures but I do not think this is what you are asking for.

Your question I suppose is looking more to the future. And I think that in the future, some kind of agreement of this type has to be done. The refugees are still there. They continue needing our support.

And on the talks that the European Union Council will have about our relations with Turkey, for sure this Statement has to be taken into consideration and it will be part of our future relation with Turkey. Because preventing irregular departures, avoiding losses of lives and helping Turkey to support the burden that it represents to have such a big amount of people on their territory is part of our common interest.

It will be for sure a part of the discussions among us, Member states, European Union Institutions, and later with Turkey in order to try to look for a renewal of this common engagement.


Link to the video: