Martin Schulz called on member states to step up their efforts to relocate refugees from EU countries faced with a heavy influx. “European solidarity can work if we all commit to it, but not if we let a small number of countries do all the heavy lifting,” the EP President said at an informal meeting of leaders of EU countries in Malta on 12 November. The meeting took place following the Valletta summit on migration to discuss collaboration with other countries.
In his speech Schulz warned the heads of state: “The European Union is challenged as never before. This refugee and migration crisis will not go if we turn our heads away. It will only get worse. Globalisation may be visible in our supermarkets or our cinemas. Now, whether we like it or not, it is also arriving on our shores.”
He called for emergency funding and investments to be delivered to where they were needed as soon as possible. In addition member states should provide Frontex and European Asylum Support Office with the necessary expertise and staff and implement existing binding decisions on relocation.
Schulz described how he witnessed the first relocation flight from Greece last Wednesday, adding: “If these first steps are not urgently followed up by dozens of such flights in the next days, to all member states, we will never manage the situation.”
The EP President stressed the importance of stepping up collaboration with other countries, but also said that those who have no right to stay must be returned: “This is part and parcel of any coherent migration policy based on rules.” He also said he looked forward to the European Commission’s upcoming proposal on a European border and coastguard to help harmonise the variety of national border guards and coastguards.