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North Africa focus at ministerial meeting

28 February 2011

The events in North Africa were the main focus on the agenda when the EU ministers for interior met in Brussels last week. But there was also time for discussions on the asylum situation in Greece, a readmission agreement with Turkey, and the Commission legislative proposal on cybercrime.

The situation in Libya is changing by the hour, and the EU has introduced sanctions and taken humanitarian action to deal with the situation on the ground. When the EU's ministers for interior met the discussions were focussed on possible migration aspects of the current situation. So far, most people fleeing Libya are going to the neighbouring countries Tunisia and Egypt, but it is not unlikely that there might be a lot of people coming also to Europe.
"Right now the most important thing is to get an end to the violence, and to deal with the humanitarian situation. At the same time, we must however prepare for a possible future situation where a large number of people might come to Europe. We have not seen that yet, and it is not very meaningful to speculate at this stage in the number of people that could come, but we are looking into all possible financial, legal, technical, and extraordinary measures that could be used in such a situation. If a large number of people start coming to Europe, it will be a possibility to really show European solidarity – the neighbouring countries Malta and Italy of course can not be expected to take all the responsibility", said EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The Member States also adopted a readmission agreement with Turkey, which Cecilia Malmström was happy to announce.
"Turkey is an important partner for Europe, and we need to cooperate more closely in the future. I am therefore very happy that this readmission agreement was agreed upon. The ministers have also endorsed our proposal to start a visa dialogue with Turkey. I am prepared to go there to identify, together with the Turkish authorities, what measures that need to be taken", said Cecilia Malmström.

Read more and see the concluding press conference on the Council website.