Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. 

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Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. Mr President, first of all it is absolutely right that today we have a problem with implementation.
When it comes to the migration crisis, I have no doubt that today we are at a very critical moment regarding the implementation of our decisions. But this is perhaps the first time when I feel that this is a critical juncture for the political system in Europe. The EU is based on an assumption that all Member States are ready to act with goodwill and to respect our common decisions. Without this method and this determination, our work has no meaning. You are absolutely right.
What is most critical today is that I have no problems reaching compromises at the level of the European Council. On the contrary, it is too easy to achieve compromise, but the next day almost no one is ready to respect our common decisions. This is a really critical moment, not only because of the matter of immigration, but for Europe as a political organisation. It is truly difficult to discipline Member States today.
Neither I nor the Commission receives much thanks. I am sorry to say that if the first principle – that we are ready to respect each other and our decisions – is not respected then we will have a huge problem implementing anything at all. Maybe this is because the scale of the challenge is so unprecedented. This is the very brutal truth. Neither Europe as an organisation nor the Member States were sufficiently prepared to face this completely new – in terms of numbers – problem concerning migration. This is true.
I cannot agree with Mr Verhofstadt’s assessment when it comes to our discussion about external borders. I am sorry, but the discussion about the idea of strengthening our external borders is quite fresh. If you remember, as I do, at the beginning of our discussion about the migration crisis, there was a different topical issue, not external borders. I am really satisfied with what the Commission has done in strengthening the external borders and on the quite new idea about common external border guards in Europe. As you know, some elements of this idea are still controversial for some Member States, for many reasons. It is still quite a demanding challenge to explain and to convince them that we need this new and controversial – but absolutely necessary – new measure.
What we need today is to solve some problems as quickly as possible. This is why it is my intention to dedicate the February European Council meeting to the issue of the UK. I hope it will be our last European Council meeting about it. But the February meeting will also be devoted to an assessment of implementation regarding the migration crisis and our action plan with Turkey. The next European Council in March will also concern the migration crisis.
Esteban González Pons asked about Poland. As I said a few days ago at a meeting with the political groups here at Parliament, the EU has a right and an obligation to engage in a tough and open dialogue with the authorities of every EU Member State where the rule of law and norms of democracy may be violated. But please do not expect me to be happy and full of enthusiasm when the procedure on Poland is launched.
You must understand that this is something really difficult for me. I know that the Commission acted in good faith. I have no doubt in that. We could discuss how some of the Commission’s measures, methods and decisions could have been tougher or softer. There was also a discussion within the Commission about timing and some procedural nuances, but the Commission took the decision. I am absolutely sure that this decision is an optimal one and I fully support it without any doubts. Believe me, seeking conflict between institutions, especially in this case, makes no sense. I am absolutely sure that we will continue to cooperate very closely also with regard to Poland.

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