• European Border Guard: Council ready to negotiate with the Parliament.

    On 6 April 2016, the Permanent Representatives Committee agreed, on behalf of the Council, its negotiating position on the proposed regulation on the European Border Guard. On the basis of this mandate, the Netherlands presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as the latter has adopted its position.

    The primary objective of the European Border Guard is to ensure and implement, as a shared responsibility, the European integrated border management at the external borders with a view to managing migration effectively and ensuring a high level of security within the EU, while safeguarding EU-internal free movement. It will consist of an European border guard agency (the current Frontex agency with expanded tasks) and national authorities responsible for border management. The renewed Agency would focus its activities on the establishment of an operational strategy for the European integrated border management and on the assistance in its implementation of all member states concerned.

    The negotiations with the European Parliament will start as soon as it adopts its position. The Presidency’s intention is to reach a political agreement before the end of its term, as requested by the European Council of 18-19 February 2016. The proposal, which is part of the Borders legislative package, was submitted by the Commission on 15 December 2015.

  • EU Presidency – EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam: enabling young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe.

    The Dutch Presidency of the Council, together with the Dutch National Youth Council, the European Commission and the European Youth Forum hosted the EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam on 4-7 April, bringing youth delegates and policy makers to the same table to discuss youth issues.

    This EU Youth Conference kicks off the V cycle of the Structured Dialogue (an innovative and unique participative process where young people contribute to EU youth policy). In order to enhance a continuous dialogue between policy-makers and young people, the three EU Youth Conferences of the cycle of the current trio Presidency (Dutch, Slovakian, Maltese) will focus on the common theme “Enabling all young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe”.

    Over four days, youth delegates and policy-makers sat at the same table to identify the main challenges faced by young people to be fully engaged in an inclusive society. They issued a guiding framework, which was presented today during the closing ceremony. An interactive debate on violent radicalisation with Commissioner Navracsics, the Deputy Minister Martin Van Rijn and the delegates concluded the conference. The guiding framework will support the forthcoming consultations: “Young people need space and opportunity to develop their personal, social and civic competences. Without access to proper information and competences, young people can be misled and negatively influenced in their life options, opinion formulation, access to rights and the ability to exercise their active citizenship”. (Read the full version of the guiding framework here.)

  • Joint declaration of the prime ministers of Greece and Portugal – 11 April 2016.

    In a joint statement on several EU topics, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa expressed their common position on the migration crisis.

    They pledged for a comprehensive approach that addresses its root causes, including war, violent conflicts and poverty and where the migration flow is collectively and fairly managed by all Member States. In this context, Greece and Portugal will cooperate to ensure that the EU steps up its efforts in its broader neighbourhood to effectively support the external dimension of European Migration Policy. They said that building walls and fences, unilaterally implementing measures or refusing to participate in common resettlement and relocation schemes undermines European solidarity as well as the humane and effective management of migrant flows.

    They called on Europe to remain open to hosting people in need of international protection, by replacing dangerous, irregular migration routes with legal processes of resettlement of refugees from countries neighbouring Syria and by accelerating the relocation processes of refugees already in Greece and Italy. At the same time, the EU must enhance efforts to establish readmission agreements with the countries of origin of economic immigrants. In this context, Greece and Portugal commit to enhance joint efforts for the reform of the Dublin process so that refugee flows are distributed in a fair way throughout the EU.