Speaking at European Council's migration summit yesterday, Thursday, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas stressed the importance of stronger EU external border control, twinned with cooperation with third party countries, and accepting that the admission of refugees to any state should remain voluntary.
"We need better cooperation with countries outside the EU and we have to return those people who do not meet the requirements for being granted international protection in the EU in a more efficient manner,'' Mr. Ratas said.
''We must also support member states that are experiencing the biggest migration pressures," he went on.
EU leaders at the summit also tabled the idea of setting up regional migration centres.
"This idea deserves further discussion. There are many legal and practical issues regarding creating such centres which need to be solved in cooperation with international organizations. Relocation and resettlement within the framework of that should also remain voluntary," Mr. Ratas said, in reference to the proposal.
Crisis is under control, states Prime Minister
According to Mr. Ratas, it is also important to find ways to induce countries outside the EU to cooperate with the EU.
"We need a stable, but also flexible, funding model for dealing with migration ... Estonia is ready to contribute an additional €150,000 to the Trust Fund for Africa," he went on
Estonia has to date contributed €1.45 million to this fund.
Migration pressures have declined considerably in recent years [since the migration crisis of 2015 – ed.] as a result of joint efforts, Mr. Ratas stated.
The number of asylum seekers registered reportedly fell by 44% year on year in 2017, and the number of illegal border crossings by 60% over the same period.
"Irrespective of all the issues that still need solving, we have managed to get migration under control," Mr. Ratas opined.
The migrant summit lasted around 10 hours, with some EU leaders such as Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, hailing it as a success.
Editor: Andrew Whyte