In an invitation letter to the members of the European Council, President Donald Tusk said:
“In September we crafted a comprehensive strategy how to deal with the migratory crisis, but its implementation is still lagging behind. We need to speed up on all fronts, including the protection of the EU’s external borders. Our goal is clear: we must regain control over our external borders to stem migratory flows and to preserve Schengen. This is why at our October meeting we put the above issue at the top of our agenda and asked the Commission to table proposals aimed at enhancing the mandate of Frontex and improving the management of the EU’s external borders. Our meeting will be the first occasion to react to the Commission’s package in this respect.
Besides the debate on the future solutions, we must manage the ongoing crisis with the tools we have in hand. Frontex needs to be in a position to make checks of all the relevant databases, including security checks, be it SIS or Europol. In response to the Greek government’s request for assistance in the form of a Rapid Border Intervention Team, Member States and EU institutions will need to do everything in their power to assist Greece in this challenging task. The security of the EU’s external border has until now been too low, with only 20% of refugees and migrants intercepted upon reaching the shores in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The protection of our external borders is not intended to scare off those who flee wars or persecution. Europe is a community of freedom and will always provide shelter for those in danger.
The debate on migration will follow our traditional exchange with the President of the European Parliament.
During dinner we will discuss the UK issue, to see if we can pave the way for an agreement in February. As I set out in my letter, we have achieved significant progress in negotiations; however we are still far from an agreement on several topics. This Thursday we will need to focus especially on the most controversial ones. The stakes are so high that we cannot escape a serious debate with no taboos.
We will resume our European Council on Friday morning with an in-depth discussion on the follow-up to the Five Presidents’ report on Economic and Monetary Union. There is no time for complacency in reforming the Eurozone. We need to further strengthen the Banking Union and improve economic governance. The President of the ECB will join us for this debate.
We will also adopt conclusions on the Internal Market, on Energy and Climate change. Afterwards, we will discuss the fight against terrorism. The emphasis must be placed on better information-sharing so that our authorities can make full use of the available information in combatting the terrorist threat. We will finish by adopting conclusions on Syria.
Finally, let me also take this opportunity to inform you that I have asked the Presidency to put on the agenda of COREPER this coming Friday the proposal to roll over sanctions on Russia for another 6 months. This will be the direct consequence of the March European Council conclusion, according to which the duration of the restrictive measures against the Russian Federation should be clearly linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements.”