EU's Tusk warns Europe has two months to tackle migration crisis

Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:16pm GMT

By Gabriela Baczynska

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - European Council President Donald Tusk issued a stark warning on Tuesday that the European Union had "no more than two months" to tackle the migration crisis engulfing the 28-nation bloc or else face the collapse of its passport-free Schengen zone.

Tusk was speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg amid growing frustration in Brussels and Germany - the bloc's biggest economy and main destination for migrants arriving in Europe - that the EU seems unable to get its act together on its worst migration crisis since World War Two.

"We have no more than two months to get things under control," Tusk, who chairs the summits of EU leaders, said.

"The March European Council (summit) will be the last moment to see if our strategy works. If it doesn't, we will face grave consequences such as the collapse of Schengen."

The European Council summit on March 17-18 will focus mainly on the migrant crisis. The Schengen system has already been suspended in some countries like Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which have introduced controls at their borders in order to stem the flow of migrant and refugee arrivals.

Tusk said that EU governments have failed to deliver on commitments to curb the flow of refugees and migrants reaching Europe, with more than 1 million arrivals last year and figures showing little sign of decreasing over the winter months.

A landmark deal with Turkey, which is meant to keep more people on its soil in exchange for funding for migrants and reviving its long-stalled EU membership talks, "was still to bear fruit", Tusk said.

On creating the bloc's joint border guard - another measure to address the migration crisis - Tusk said he expected a political agreement between EU leaders when they meet for a summit in June.   Continued...

European Council President Donald Tusk gestures during a news conference after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal
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