BRUSSELS - "It is important to follow the procedures and make sure that Member States give their mandate to the Commission and then Member States, during this process, say yes or no, despite what the Commission has negotiated: this is a clear lesson, Member States' involvement is crucial for its success." This was stated by the President of the EU Council Charles Michel, guest of the Spanish TVE, responding to a question on the Memorandum signed by the EU Commission with Tunis on 16 July 2023. "We have the impression that we are negotiating on a case-by-case basis with some of these countries and, probably, we need global principles" on the issue.
"It is important to keep in mind our fundamental principles and values," Michel explained, referring to the issue of respect for the human rights of migrants by third countries. "What is our common rule? Make sure that it is not the smugglers who decide who can travel to the EU, but that we, the member states, decide together with third countries who can come to the EU", explained the President of the EU Council.
The debate on migration "is always a difficult one and, looking at the latest developments, we are again faced with difficulties given the increasing numbers: first of all we must show our solidarity, it is a European challenge, which requires a European response, and secondly, we must engage with third countries, countries of origin and transit", Michel added. "In Granada we will have the opportunity to discuss this issue, how things are going and to see what more we can do to ensure European solidarity, on the one hand, but also to ensure that our engagement with third countries is effective and delivers results," he added.
Asked about the issue of EU enlargement, the President of the European Council called it "unfair not to take into account the fate of the Western Balkans".
"We spoke with them many years ago to steer them towards the European perspective, but there is momentum because now we all understand, after the war launched by Russia against Ukraine, that it is much better for the EU to expand: maybe this debate was more difficult before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in some member states, but today there is an understanding and I think a political will.which is necessary for enlargement", he added, extinguishing the controversy over whether priority should be given to Ukraine and Moldova and not to the candidate countries of the Western Balkans.
"But at the same time we need to ask the right questions and give the right answers in the future: how do we decide together with more members in the EU? What are our common priorities? What do we want to do together in the EU? And how do we pay, what will be the funds in the future? These are extremely difficult questions, but it's time to address them," he urged. Leaders, heads of state and government "have an important role for legitimacy and that is why I am very grateful to Pedro Sánchez for making this debate in Granada possible to start with these decisions and to see how we can converge politically to make sure we are ready in time," he said.
"In a few weeks, in December, we will have to take important decisions on Ukraine, Moldova, but also on the Western Balkans: it is a merit-based process, and this means that, on the one hand, these countries have to do their homework, and on the other hand, we in the EU must also prepare for this enlargement," he stressed.