8-9 February Justice and Home Affairs informal

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Series Details Vol 7, No.7, 15.2.01, p8
Publication Date 15/02/2001
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Date: 15/02/01

JUSTICE ministers dismissed fears that a common EU asylum policy would close off the Union to refugees in genuine need. Maj-Inger Klingvall, Swedish minister for migration and asylum, said "fears of a 'fortress Europe' are exaggerated". But she insisted that it was critically important for the Union to address the problem of 'asylum shopping', in which would-be immigrants move between EU countries until they find one that will except their application for refuge. Klingvall also said trafficking in human beings was closely linked to poverty, and that the fight against illegal immigration should therefore be an integral part of development aid policy.

IN THE heated talks on asylum German Minister of the Interior Otto Schily called for the interests of the countries most exposed to immigration to be especially taken into account, citing not only Germany but also Greece, Italy and Spain. Ruud Lubbers, UN high commissioner for refugees, warned ministers that it was impossible to stop asylum seekers coming to Europe. "No wall will be high enough to prevent people coming in," he said.

MINISTERS agreed to press on with legislation requiring that court judgements made in one Union country are recognised in others. They pledged to implement an action programme on mutual recognition agreed under the French presidency, starting with a pilot project on cases in which there is no dispute over who is to blame. "The aim is to gradually phase out all the bureaucratic processes which exacerbate judicial cooperation," said Swedish Justice Minister Thomas Bodström.

THE Swedish presidency called for reform of the way member states worked towards the Tampere goal of creating a common area of freedom, security and justice. Klingwall said working groups of diplomats must be given more time to go through proposals. "We must also improve efficiency in order to take concrete steps in our harmonisation work," she said.

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