Justice and Home Affairs Council: extracts from the press conference by Alan SHATTER, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence and Cecilia MALMSTRÖM, Member of the EC in charge of Home Affairs
Lieu: Brussels, Belgium - Council / Justus Lipsius
End production: 07/03/2013 First transmission: 07/03/2013
EU Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs started today in Brussels a two-day meeting looking at a number of measures aimed at increasing border security in Europe.
The European Commission presented a new package of measures on Smart Borders, intended to speed up border crossing for regular travelers while also helping to better secure the external borders of the EU through the use of new Entry/Exit and Registered Traveler systems. Securing Europe’s borders is a vital element in ensuring the free movement rights of European citizens.
Home Affairs Ministers also discussed the security situation in the Sahel region of West Africa, in light of the deteriorating conditions in that region.
The issue of Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen Area was also discussed today without gaining unanimity among EU Member States.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the pres conference
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Alan Shatter, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, on Romania and Bulgaria's perspective to join the Schengen Area: The Council decided that the issue will be again addressed before the end of 2013. I do not expect it to be addressed in any final form during the course of the Irish Presidency. It will be taken over during the Lithuanian Presidency. There are a number of States who had variety of issues of concern. They are all issues of political concern. Both Bulgaria and Romania have met the technical qualifications for being part of Schengen. This matter will be revisited later this year.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Home Affairs, on the same issue, and more particularly on concerns expressed by some Member States about massive flux of migration from these countries once they are in Schengen: The Freedom of Movement directive is very clear, all European citizens have the same rights and duties all over the European Union. There is an economic crisis. People, living in poorer countries or where unemployment is very high, are trying to seek work in other parts of Europe. That is totally normal, even to be encouraged because that facilitates the movements. We see that in Germany or in Sweden for instance. People are allowed to stay for a limited time and if they cannot sustain or support themselves, they must go back. The Council did not discuss today any ways of changing that.
||Cutaway of press
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Alan Shatter on Syria, saying that this is a humanitarian catastrophe of enormous proportions. As this conflict continues without any sight of ending, there are continuing violations of human rights. The schooling system in Syria has collapsed.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Alan Shatter still on Syria, saying that practical reality in EU's legal system at the moment is that individuals who are fleeing from Syria, where there is very clearly a conflict, are certainly not in current circumstances going to be returned to Syria by EU countries.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Cecilia Malmström on Romania and Bulgaria's perspective to join the Schengen Area: The Commission has said that those two countries are ready to join and wished that the Council could take a positive decision on this. But there has to be unanimity. Despire the very good negotiation capacities of the Irish Presidency, there is no unanimity for the time being. Time will have to show whether this could find a solution in a short term. I really hope so.
||Departure (2 shots)