EU Leaders Agree on Stricter Control of External Borders, More Aid to RefugeesEU | September 24, 2015, Thursday // 10:21| views
The EU council building is illuminated late in the evening during the head of state summit on the migrant crisis in Brussels on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
At the informal, extraordinary meeting of the European Council, which was held in Brussels on Wednesday, the EU heads of state or government agreed that in order to deal with the unprecedented influx of refugees, their focus should be on protecting the Union's external borders and providing external assistance to refugees and countries of the neighbourhood.
At the summit, the leaders decided on practical priorities for immediate action and discussed long-term responses to migratory challenges.
European Council President Donald Tusk explained that he convened the extraordinary summit of EU leaders in order to have an honest discussion on the nature of the problem and search for possible solutions.
Tusk noted that there were eight million displaced people in Syria alone, while four million have fled to the neighbouing countries.
Refugees were also coming in great numbers from Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
He forecasted that the greatest influx of refugees and migrants was yet to come, which necessitated correction to the policy of open doors and windows.
EU leaders agreed on providing assistance to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries in dealing with the refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
They committed themselves to mobilising at least EUR 1 B additional funding for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The heads of state or government also agreed on reinforcing dialogue and cooperation with Turkey at all levels as well as assisting the countries of the Western Balkans in the management of refugee flows.
They set out to increase funding to address the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa.
The EU leaders also reached an agreement on strengthening the control at the Union's external borders and assist frontline member states in the establishment of hotspots to ensure correct identification, relocation and returns of migrants.
They called for renewing diplomatic efforts in solving the crisis in Syria and ensure the formation of a government of national unity in Libya.
Migration will also be on the agenda of the regular European Council, which is scheduled to take place on October 15-16.
The extraordinary summit was preceded by meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council on Tuesday when EU interior ministers adopted the proposal for the relocation of 120 00 refugees.