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European Agenda on Migration

Turkey says 2016 migrant deal with EU needs to be updated

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Turkey said on Tuesday (10 March) a 2016 migration deal with the EU needs to be updated in light of the crisis in northern Syria, as tensions continued to flare on the Turkish-Greek border after Ankara said it would no longer to stop migrants trying to cross, write Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay.

In an interview with state-owned Anadolu news agency, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that European Union visa liberalization and an update of the country’s customs union with the bloc must be implemented to help solve the migrant issue.

Late on Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan left meetings in Brussels with EU and NATO leaders without issuing a joint statement nor appearing at a joint news conference, as had been planned.

Erdogan made the trip to Brussels as a dispute deepened over the fate of tens of thousands of migrants trying to enter EU-member Greece. Ankara decided last month to encourage the migration to extract more European support and funding in its military effort in Syria’s Idlib region.

Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian migrants and has stemmed migration to Europe under the 2016 deal in return for billions of euro in aid. But it has become frustrated with what it regards as too little European support over the war in Syria, where its troops faced off against Russian-backed government forces.

The pact also envisaged the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from camps in Turkey, rewarding Turks with visa-free travel to the bloc, faster progress in EU membership talks and upgrading their customs union.

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Commissioners Schmit and Johansson participate in Mutual Learning Conference on integration and inclusion of migrants

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On 26 November, the Mutual Learning Conference on ‘Innovative approaches to integration and inclusion of migrants' took place by VTC with the participation of Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson. It follows the Commission's Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion for the period 2021-2027 published on 24 November, laying the foundation for strategic guidance and concrete actions to foster the inclusion of migrants and EU citizens with migrant background, which is essential for social cohesion and for a dynamic economy that works for all.

As part of a series of mutual learning events organized by the Commission, the conference presents an opportunity to exchange innovative practices, with a focus on skills assessment and development, as well as on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labour market integration and social inclusion of migrants and EU citizens with migrant background. Many of them are essential workers and help to fill skills gaps in various sectors, however, they often encounter obstacles to accessing the labour market and social protection systems.

The conference gathered around 160 policy experts from national administrations, representatives of civil society, the Commission and economic and social partner organizations, who provide an overview of new approaches to integration and inclusion. Information material linked to the conference, thematic reports and its final report will be published here.

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Migration: President von der Leyen calls for a system that manages migration in the long term, fully grounded in European values

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On 19 November, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) gave a keynote speech at the Interparliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum, hosted by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble, via videoconference. Speaking at the conference, President von der Leyen recalled that “migration has always been a fact for Europe – and it always will be”, and that it “enriches our societies, it brings new talent to our countries, when well managed”. 

However, the European Union still faces many challenges: “The current system no longer works. Our New Pact on Migration and Asylum offers a fresh start.” The President underlined the importance “for the EU to build a system that manages migration in the long term and which is fully grounded in European values”, set out in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum the Commission put forward in September this year. To find a “sustainable solution”, President von der Leyen urged all parties involved - national Parliaments, the European Parliament and national governments - to work together to acknowledge and overcome existing differences.

She also reiterated the need to show solidarity to the Member States on the EU's external borders whose concerns need to be heard and discussed. You can watch the President's speech back here, and read the full keynote speech online. Find more information on EU migration policy here.

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President von der Leyen and Commissioner Johansson participate in Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe

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Today (19 November) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson are taking part in the Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe. The conference opened with keynote speeches from the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, President von der Leyen, the Presidents of the German Parliament, Wolfgang Schäuble, of the Portuguese Parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, and of Slovenian Parliament, Igor Zorčič.

A panel discussion on ‘Managing asylum and migration together' will follow with contributions from Presidents Sassoli, von der Leyen and Schäuble as well as International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director-General António Vitorino. Commissioner Johansson will participate in a roundtable with German Interior, Building and Community Federal Minister Horst Seehofer, on the ‘Relationship between solidarity and responsibility in migration and asylum management'. The conference will be an opportunity for MEPs and national MPs to gather virtually to discuss how to manage migration and asylum in Europe.

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