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Alternate FM Xydakis’ remarks to the EU General Affairs Council (Brussels, 15 March 2016)

Friday, 18 March 2016

The Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, participated in today’s meeting of the EU General Affairs Council (GAC), in Brussels.

The GAC agenda included preparations for the European Council summit to be held this Thursday and Friday, in Brussels, and was topped by the refugee/migration issue and employment, growth and competitiveness issues. The GAC also looked at the European Semester, the Interinstitutional Agreement and Cohesion Policy, with a focus on investments in new jobs and optimization of the contribution of the European Structural and Investment Funds.

In his remarks, which focused on the refugee and migration issue, Mr. Xydakis highlighted that the 1:1 ratio proposed in the new EU-Turkey agreement needs broader legitimization from the member states, and that the implementation of this measure must not end up being a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey. “There is a very difficult management problem. With such a large number of incoming refugees/migrants, who can manage the asylum applications? It is now obvious that we need to move to a common European Asylum System,” Mr. Xydakis noted.

The Alternate Foreign Minister concluded his remarks with a request of his colleague Ministers, stressing that, at this time, the European is going through a universal crisis, the sharp end of which is the refugee/migration issue. “If we are to overcome the crisis, we must not render political problems technical, and the solution of these problems must not fall to bureaucratic employees. This leads to mass Euroskepticism and is seen in the rise of hard-right populism, leading to the questioning of the European vision,” Mr. Xydakis stressed. In closing, Mr. Xydakis recognized non-compliance with the decisions of the EU organs as a major problem, speaking of inconsistency and discontinuity.