EU – Turkey Relations on the Tomorrow’s Council Agenda


The Council is expected to further develop the EU’s response to needs expressed by Greece and other member states who may be affected. Turkey uses migratory pressure for political purposes.The leaders discussed bilateral relations, the implementation of the EUTurkey statement on migration, security and stability in the region and the crisis in Syria.

***

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 13/03/202
Background brief

The Council will be chaired by, Davor Božinović, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Croatia.

In the morning, home affairs ministers will exchange views on the strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs, with a view to their endorsement ahead of the March European Council meeting.They will then come back to the situation at the EU’s external borders with Turkey. The Council will further develop the EU’s response to needs expressed by Greece.

Over lunch, ministers responsible for civil protection issues will discuss the coronavirus outbreak. Representatives of the Schengen associated countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland will also be present for the point on the situation at the EU’s external borders.

 

Strategic Guidelines on justice and home affairs

The Council aims to endorse the strategic guidelines in the area of freedom, security and justice.

Ministers will exchange views on the strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs, with a view to their approval ahead of the March European Council meeting.

The draft strategic guidelines focus on how to organise the work, tools and structures in the area of justice and home affairs to achieve the EU’s common objectives.

On the basis of the strategic agenda 2019-2024, adopted by EU leaders in June 2019, the strategic guidelines define four cross-cutting blocks:

values and rule of law: fundamental rights and the protection of the rule of law mutual trust:

mutual recognition instruments, Eurojust and EPPO, cooperation in criminal and civil law matters and strengthening of the cross-border legal certainty, Schengen

one Europe, one space: borders, migration, asylum, internal security and terrorism

mastering new technologies and artificial intelligence: framework for the development of artificial intelligence, data security and data protection, ethics, challenges of technological development for security, law enforcement and justice

The Treaty of Lisbon tasks the European Council with defining the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning with in the area of freedom, security and justice.

Following the adoption of the June 2019 strategic agenda, justice and home ministers and experts took part in a reflection process on the different aspects of the area of freedom, security and justice which wrapped up in December 2019.

On the basis of the results of this reflection process the Croatian Presidency prepared the draft strategic guidelines, which aim to take forward the strategic agenda and facilitate its implementation.

[background information]

[A new strategic agenda 2019-2024, 20 June 2019]

 

EU’s external borders with Turkey

Home affairs ministers are expected to address the situation at the EU’s external borders with Turkey. The member states concerned, the Commission and relevant EU agencies would:

☛ brief ministers on the latest developments

☛ report on the implementation of the measures agreed on 4 March

The Council is expected to further develop the EU’s response to needs expressed by Greece and other member states who may be affected.

Home affairs ministers will come back to the situation at the EU’s external borders with Turkey.

Ministers will be informed by the member states concerned, the Commission and the relevant EU agencies of the latest developments at the EU’s external borders with Turkey, as well as on how the measures mentioned in the home affairs ministers statement of 4 March are being or will be implemented. The Council will further develop the EU’s response to needs expressed by Greece and other member states who may be similarly affected.

Since 27 February 2020, Greece has experienced growing pressure on its border with Turkey.

On 1 March Frontex received a request from the Greek government to launch a rapid border intervention at its sea borders in the Aegean.

On 2 March, Frontex received a second request from Greece to launch a rapid border intervention at its external land borders. These interventions rely on the rapid reaction pools of 1500 officers and equipment from member states, which are required to provide officers and staff within 5 days and equipment within 10 days.

On 3 March, the Presidents of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament, as well as the Prime Minister of Croatia, which holds the Council Presidency, travelled to Greece and Bulgaria and reiterated EU support to these countries.

On 4 March, home affairs ministers met at an extraordinary meeting and issued a statement on the situation at the EU’s external borders. They expressed solidarity with Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states who might be similarly affected, strongly rejected Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes, reiterated the EU’s and member states’ determination to effectively protect the EU’s external borders and indicated they stand ready to strengthen their support to areas under pressure.

On the same day, the European Commission presented an action plan for immediate measures to support Greece, including the provision of up to €700 million in financial assistance to the country. Greece has also triggered a call within the civil protection mechanism for medical equipment, shelters, tents, blankets and other necessary supplies.

On 6 March, foreign affairs ministers met at an extraordinary meeting to discuss the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders with Turkey, and issued a statement. On 9 March, Presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Brussels.

The leaders discussed bilateral relations, the implementation of the EUTurkey statement on migration, security and stability in the region and the crisis in Syria.

They tasked the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and the Turkish Foreign Minister to work over the next few days on clarifying the implementation of the statement.

[EU-Turkey leaders’ meeting, 9 March 2020]

[Statement of the Foreign Affairs Council, 6 March 2020]

[Commission action plan for immediate measures to support Greece, 4 March 2020]

[Remarks by President Charles Michel following his visit to the Greek Turkish border]

[Statement on the situation at the EU’s external borders]

 

Civil protection: COVID-19 outbreak

Over lunch, ministers are expected to informally discuss the coronavirus outbreak, following up on the priorities identified by EU leaders on 10 March.

The focus would be in particular on:

☛ lessons learnt so far in the tackling of the COVID-19 outbreak

☛ possible additional preparedness and response measures for the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

☛ how to step up information-sharing, making full use of the integrated political crisis response (IPCR) toolbox

☛ additional support from member states

[COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak – latest information]

[Statement by the President of the European Council following the video conference on COVID-19]

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