EU informal summit closes: 'We need to regain control of the external border as a precondition for European migration policy -Tusk

British reform requests 'very very tough'

EU leaders this evening reiterated their concerns about the Schengen agreement as member states close borders to guard against migrants.

Speaking at the end of an informal EU summit in Valletta, European Council president Donald Tusk repeated comments he made in the morning, that the Schengen agreement was under threat and time was running out.

“We need to regain control of the external border as a precondition for European migration policy,” he said. He stressed that the EU would respect its obligations to migrants, but without registration there were no rights. Furthermore, asylum seekers could not decide where they would be given asylum. 

He said the summit had focused on relations with Turkey and it was agreed to hold a summit of the EU 28 with Turkey as soon as possible. He was confident of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Mr Juncker underlined the need for the EU to improve the rate of migrant transfers between member states. "We are meant to relocate 160,000 and just 130 have been moved between member states," he complained.

He welcomed the allocation of more resources to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Asked what needed to be done to protect Schengen, Mr Tusk said there needed to be effective implementation of the rules, but he understood that the Dublin rules were unfavourable to some countries in the current influx of migrants.

The EU also needed to establish partnerships beyond the borders, such as Turkey.

Asked about the UK's call for reform ahead of a referendum on whether it should stay or leave the EU, Mr Juncker said this was not discussed in the summit, although he had a number of meetings with Mr Cameron over the past weeks.

Formal talks would be started next week and all member states would be involved in the process.

Mr Tusk said this was a 'very very tough game'  and it would be 'really difficult' to find an agreement.

"There is no guarantee that we can do it by December, although we will do our best," he said.

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