EU heads of state and government met this Wednesday 23 September to discuss the migration crisis in the EU and, speaking at the start of the European Council, EP President Schulz said that the European Union "is built on de facto solidarity, out of necessity, not romanticism." "The European Parliament will now engage as a matter of priority with the Council on the proposals presented by President Juncker on 9 September, and present its own further proposals, " he said.
Speaking at the summit, the President welcomed the adoption of the second emergency plan by the Home Affairs Council on Tuesday (22/09) to relocate 120.000 refugees as already approved by Parliament last Thursday. The next step should be a binding permanent relocation mechanism for all Member States: "To distribute a few hundred thousand among 507 million in 28 countries should not pose a problem. This is neither a “German problem”, nor a “Greek problem” nor a “Hungarian problem” - it is our common task."
On the reintroduction of internal border controls, Schulz said they were only permissible as a very short term measure: "People running for their lives from the violence of Assad or the so-called Islamic State will not be deterred by fences or walls. It is not a crime to cross a border to seek asylum".
On the situation in Syria, the President stressed that the root causes of the crisis had to be tackled: "A ceasefire must be brokered urgently." Moreover, he called on the EU to increase its contribution to humanitarian and development assistance.
In all, faced with what he described as an "epochal challenge", the president said it is "not fear, but the compassion and human decency demonstrated by our citizens must motivate our political decisions".