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Statement by State Secretary Janez Lenarčič on Behalf of the Eu Council on the Situation in the Field of Illegal Immigration

Dear Mr President, honourable Members of the Parliament,

By way of introduction, allow me to underline that the challenges of migration call for a comprehensive approach. We need to develop a comprehensive migration policy and legislation, and at the same time continue efforts in combating illegal migration. Measures are needed at the EU level, between Member States, and in cooperation with third countries.


Integrated Management of EU External Borders

One of the most significant elements in the fight against illegal immigration is an efficient control of the external borders of the EU.

The recent integration of nine Member States into the Schengen area is certainly a major achievement in this area. Since joining the Schengen area, the Slovenian Presidency has striven for the early establishment of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). This is also one of the priority projects for the EU. All necessary activities should be carried out in a manner which allows the transition from SIS I+ to SIS II to be completed by September 2009 at the latest.

Due to frequent incidents in the Mediterranean Sea and along the North African coast, the Commission and some Member States proposed some initiatives for better management of illegal migration as early as 2007. In the context of these endeavours, the Slovenian Presidency organized a Ministerial Conference on the Challenges of the EU External Border Management, which was held in Slovenia on 11 and 12 March 2008.

The first discussion of three communications from the Commission, which were presented in February, took place at the conference. The participants discussed the evaluation and future development of the Frontex Agency and further steps in EU external border management. In the future, border controls must be strengthened and reliable identification of persons must be provided. At the same time we need to strive for openness and accessibility of the European Union. Ministers also discussed a proposal for the creation of a European Border Surveillance System EUROSUR. The Presidency has already prepared further EU guidelines in this area, to be discussed at the June meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.

Furthermore, the Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals ("Directive on return") will be an important tool in combating illegal immigration. The Presidency has already opened the second round of negotiations with the European Parliament, which took place in a very constructive spirit. I believe that with common efforts we could adopt the Directive at first reading.

As regards a proposal on the Directive providing for sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals, the Council is currently awaiting a proposal on amendments from the Parliament.

Visa policy is also  vital for developing an integrated migration policy. In that area, the Slovenian Presidency made progress in discussing two very important dossiers: the Amendment to Common Consular Instructions and the Code on Visas. As regards further work on both dossiers, we look forward to constructive cooperation with the EP.

In the field of asylum, the January informal Council examined practical cooperation between the Member States, and this month the Council adopted an adequate set of conclusions.


Comprehensive Migration Policy

In order to successfully abolish illegal immigration, a comprehensive overview of migration policy is needed. Combating illegal immigration requires, inter alia, cooperation with countries of origin and addressing the push-factors for migration, which also means encouraging the development of such countries. The Global Approach to Migration, endorsed by the European Council in December 2005, provides the basis for such a comprehensive approach to migration policy, and is dedicated to strengthening and deepening international cooperation with third countries of origin and transit, and also establishing partnerships with these countries. The Global Approach is currently focusing in particular on the most critical regions such as Africa and the Eastern and Southern Eastern regions bordering on the European Union.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Slovenian Presidency is making every effort to follow the fundamental EU guidelines on developing a comprehensive migration policy which we undoubtedly need. Strengthening external border management is therefore crucial. Further efforts by Frontex are also needed regarding coordination of Member State activities relating to the control of the external borders. We need to continue our cooperation with third countries in combating illegal immigration.

Allow me to conclude by saying that the Council is looking forward to cooperation with the Parliament in providing all the instruments that the Union needs to efficiently address migration challenges.

Thank you for your attention.


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Date: 24.04.2008