On the first day of its Summit, the European Council welcomed progress across the comprehensive migration strategy that the Commission has put in place, and called for urgent implementation of the work that remains.
Speaking about the new migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit, which the Commission proposed in June this year, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said, "In the last four months we made substantial progress, because we were able to put into place a new working method; we have changed the terms of our dialogue with partner countries, and we have opened new avenues for managing jointly with them migration challenges. We are pursuing this important piece of work."
The European Council welcomed the launch of the European Border and Coast Guard, which became operational on 6 October, only nine months after the Commission put the proposal on the table. Member States are now deploying staff and equipment so that the Guard can offer rapid reaction teams by the end of the year.
On the strengthening of the EU's external border, EU leaders called for swift adoption of the revised Schengen Borders Code, which will enforce systematic controls on all travellers crossing EU external borders. They now look forward to the Commission's proposal to set up a European Travel Information and Authorisation System, which will allow for advance security checks on visa-exempt travellers.
The EU-Turkey Statement continues to deliver tangible results - since the agreement came into force, the number of daily arrivals on the Greek islands has averaged only 95 - but the European Council called for further efforts to accelerate returns from the Greek islands to Turkey.
In its discussion on relations with Russia, the European Council strongly condemned the attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, notably Russia, on civilians in Aleppo. The EU is calling for a cease-fire and considering all the options if the atrocities continue. In their conclusions to the meeting, EU leaders stated that "those responsible for breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights law must be held accountable." The EU's High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will continue her diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.
Today, on the second day of the Summit, discussions will focus on trade. Intensive talks have continued with a view to securing agreement on the EU's trade deal with Canada - CETA - so that it can be formally signed at next week's EU-Canada Summit. Speaking yesterday evening, President Juncker said, "I am insisting that we need this trade arrangement with Canada - it is the best one we have ever concluded. And if we are unable to conclude a trade arrangement with Canada, I do not see how it will be possible to have trade agreements with other parts of the world."