Justice and Home Affairs: Greece will open four ‘hotspots’ in time for EU summit (EurActiv)
Greece will open four migrant registration centres in time for an EU summit this week, a government source told AFP today (15 February), as Athens comes under intense pressure to control the massive influx to Europe.
Four of Greece’s five “hotspot” centres will formally open by Wednesday (17 February) on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Leros and Samos, which have been struggling to cope with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees landing from Turkey in flimsy boats, the source said. The hotspot on the island of Kos is already operational.
The centres were supposed to open late last year but have faced repeated delays.
Defence Minister Panos Kammenos is expected to visit the hotspots of Leros, Chios and Lesbos on Tuesday following a news conference in Athens […]

Justice and Home Affairs: Refugee children need our protection (EurActiv)
With more and more unaccompanied minors arriving at our borders, Europe needs to do more to ensure their safety and to give them hope for a better future, writes Věra Jourová.
Věra Jourová is the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.
Visiting a children’s refugee shelter in Brussels was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my mandate so far. I met an 11-year-old boy who had travelled on his own for 15 months. Fleeing war-torn Afghanistan and leaving his mother behind, he crossed borders tied to the bottom of a truck and walked hundreds of kilometres. Today he is learning French and Dutch, playing football and drawing […]

Justice and Home Affairs: EU approves €10 million to FYROM to better control its borders (NewEurope)
The European Commission approved an additional €10 million EU aid to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to better control its borders.
The European Commission announced today that the EU aid will help FYROM to improve its border and migration management systems in the context of the European refugee crisis. Every day, thousands of people in need are passing through FYROM to reach the final EU destinations (mainly the EU countries with decent living standards,) and authorities in the Balkan country are under pressure to control the flow […]

Justice and Home Affairs: More doubts over Greece’s Schengen-future (EurActiv)
Greece should be excluded from Schengen if no solution is found to the refugee dilemma soon, said the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) economic council. Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel warned against the consequences of such a move. EurActiv Germany reports.
The CDU’s economic wing has called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take a tough line at the upcoming EU summit on refugees.
“If no solution is found, once again, to the refugee issue, Greece has to be excluded from the Schengen area,” Wolfgang Steiger, the Secretary General of the CDU economic council, told Die Welt. He argued that temporary border-closures would be a cheaper alternative to continuing with the current open-door policy […]

Migration : Eastern EU leaders to urge Balkan border clamp down (EuObserver)
A handful of eastern EU states are seeking to ramp up border controls in the Balkans to stem migration inflows from Greece.
The move, set to be discussed on Monday (15 February) in Prague by the so-called Visegrad Four, is likely to provoke German opposition.
Composed of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, the Visegrad group wants to prevent refugees and migrants from taking the Western Balkan route towards mainland EU[…]

Global Europe: Merkel warns against Visegrad’s plans for a ‘reserve border system’ (EurActiv)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned yesterday (14 February) against plans for a “reserve border system” devised by the Visegrad Four, the group of countries including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
The leaders of the ‘Visegrad Four’ (also known as V4) are meeting today in Prague for a mini-summit ahead of the 18-19 February EU Council meeting. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was invited, together with the President of Macedonia, to join the Prague meeting.The Visegrad leaders seek a possible “plan B” in case of a collapse of the Schengen system and in particular an exit of Greece from the group. In particular, they want to make sure that the borders between Bulgaria and Greece and Macedonia and Greece are sealed and effectively stop the migration flows[…]

Global Europe: Turkey says will continue shelling Syrian Kurds (EurActiv)
Turkey will continue to strike back at Kurdish fighters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday (14 February), despite growing pressure on Ankara to stop the shelling.
The Turkish army shelled positions held by Kurdish-backed militia in northern Syria for a second day on Sunday, killing two fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Turkey on Saturday (13 February) demanded the powerful Syrian Kurdish YPG militia withdraw from areas that it had captured in the northern Aleppo region in recent days from insurgents in Syria, including the Menagh air base. The shelling has targeted those areas.
Davutoğlu said on Saturday the shelling had taken place under “the rules of engagement against forces that represented a threat in Azaz and the surrounding area” […]

Foreign Affairs: Turkey clashes with allies over attack on Syria Kurds (EuObserver)
France and the US have urged Nato ally Turkey to stop firing on Kurdish groups in Syria, putting at risk a new “cessation of hostilities” accord.
The French foreign ministry appealed on Sunday (14 February) for an “immediate halt to bombardments, by the [Syrian] regime and its allies in the whole country, and by Turkey in Kurdish zones”. It added that the “absolute priority is the implementation of the Munich communique” – a deal to pause fighting agreed by almost 20 states at a security congress in Munich last week. The White House said US vice president Joe Biden had made a similar appeal to Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu by phone on Saturday […]

Institutional Affairs: Cameron faces EU ‘crunch time’ in Brussels and London (EuObserver)
British PM David Cameron is holding final pre-summit talks in Brussels on Tuesday (16 January) before facing down his own anti-EU ministers on Friday.
The UK leader will hold talks with European Parliament chief Martin Schulz and with the “sherpas” or lead negotiators of the three main political groups.
Veteran German MEP Elmar Brok is representing the centre-right EPP group. Italian socialist Roberto Gualtieri is speaking for the centre-left S&D, while former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt will speak for the liberal Alde faction […]

UK and Europe: Forward, Europe – but which way?(EurActiv)
Every crisis is a chance so with the debate on Brexit, Europe must have right now a huge opportunity, writes Melanie Sully. Europe is busily engaged with theories of its own demise. Last year it was the collapse of the Euro and now the bloc is not sure after all if it can cope with the refugee crisis or if it will fall apart. Whereas the Scots saw leaving the UK as a risky option, for many in Britain getting out of the EU while the offer is there, seems less hazardous. After all who knows what else Brussels might dream up – and does it know itself? […]

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