EU leaders agree on further steps to tackle refugee crisis

Brussels, Oct 16 (IANS) European Union (EU) leaders on Friday agreed on further steps to tackle the “pressing” migration and refugee crisis.

“Tackling the migration and refugee crisis is a common obligation which requires a comprehensive strategy and a determined effort over time in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility,” the EU leaders said in a statement issued at the end of their one-day summit which ended in the early hours of Friday, Xinhua reported.

The EU leaders welcomed the EU-Turkey joint Action Plan for tackling the crisis, saying its “successful implementation will contribute to accelerating the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation road-map towards all participating member states and full implementation of the re-admission agreement”.

They said the EU “stand ready to increase cooperation with Turkey and step up their political and financial engagement substantially within the established framework”.

The EU leaders called for strengthening the protection of the EU’s external borders, including the establishment of an integrated management system for external borders.

The development of a European Border and Coast Guard system in cooperation with relevant member states also came up for discussion.

Concerning response to the influx of refugees in Europe, the leaders agreed to ensure the identification, registration, fingerprinting and reception of applicants for international protection and other migrants, as well as their relocations and re-settlements.

European Council President Donald Tusk expressed “cautious optimism” after the summit, saying “tonight leaders took important decisions that will help secure the Union’s external borders”.

EU heads of state or government gathered in Brussels on Thursday for their third regular summit of this year. The meeting deliberations went well into the early hours of Friday.

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