Justice and Home Affairs Council: extracts from the press conference (Home Affairs)
Lieu: Luxembourg (town), Luxembourg - Council
End production: 25/10/2012 First transmission: 25/10/2012
Meeting today in Luxembourg, the EU Ministers in charge of Home Affairs, debated how to curb the increasing number of asylum seekers from Eastern Europe, and tasked the European Commission to strengthen its cooperation with the Western Balkan countries in order to make sure that they adopt all necessary measures to fight the abuse of visa free regime.
It is time for the Western Balkan countries to address the situation seriously so that the visa free regime is not being put at risk for the Western Balkans and the other countries in the process, Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Home Affairs told journalists at the press conference after the meeting.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General views of the press conference (2 shots)
||SOUNDBITE (Greek) by Eleni Mavrou, Cypriot Minister for the Interior, on the issue of visa regime with the Western Balkans, saying that it is well-known some Member States have significant problems with this issue. Hoping that an agreement will be reached soon with the European Parliament to amend the regulation. The European Commission will continue monitoring the situation. Member States have asked the Commission to strengthen its cooperation with the Western Balkan countries in order to ensure that the criteria of the roadmaps are implemented. The Presidency attached great importance to the visa liberalisation policy for all citizens of the Western Balkans. Saying this, the EU also calls on its Western Balkan partners to adopt all necessary measures to fight the abuse of this privilege (of visa liberalisation).
||Cutaway of press room
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Home Affairs, on the issue of visa regime with the Western Balkans, saying that the European Commission attaches also great importance to the visa liberalisation process. Getting rid of visas with neighbouring and partner countries is very important in order to increase people-to-people contacts. But there are severe concerns. The numbers of asylum applications from the Western Balkans to the EU have increased with 75% since last year. This is a lot and very few of them are accepted. It is time for the Western Balkan countries to address the situation seriously so that the visa free regime is not being put at risk for the Western Balkans and the other countries in the process. There is a lot to do on coordination and at national level to fight the abuse. Also long-term effort has to do with the situation of the Roma population in those countries and where their situation is still very problematic.