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JHA Council Conclusions on 29 measures for Reinforcing External Borders and Combating Illegal Immigration

Here are excerpts from the Justice and Home Affairs Council conclusions adopted on 25 February 2010:

“Council conclusions on 29 measures for reinforcing the protection of the external borders and combating illegal immigration

2998th JUSTICE and HOME AFFAIRS Council meeting – Brussels, 25 and 26 February 2010

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

The Council:

a) Taking into account the momentum created for the further development of the area of freedom, security and justice represented by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and by the political priorities included in the Stockholm Programme, the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the Global Approach to Migration and the European Council Conclusions of June and October 2009; [***]

d) Stressing the need to share and assess analysis of the continuing illegal arrivals of migrants at the southern maritime borders, as well as the eastern land borders, as shown in particular by recent events in the Mediterranean area, and of the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings, which often have tragic consequences; and to take a series of measures immediately, in the short term and medium term, in order to address the challenges;

e) Underlining that all measures and actions taken as a consequence of these conclusions shall fully respect human rights, the protection of persons in need of international protection and the principle of non-refoulement; [***]

Concerning the activities of FRONTEX, the Council has agreed:

1. To seek agreement as a matter of urgency on the Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the FRONTEX Regulation, in order to reinforce the capabilities of the FRONTEX Agency. [***]

4. To improve operational cooperation with third countries of origin and transit, in order to improve joint patrolling on land and at sea, upon consent of the Member State concerned, return, and collection and exchange of relevant information within the applicable legal framework, and other effective preventive measures in the field of border management and illegal immigration.

5. To underline the importance of the role of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in developing methods to better identify those who are in need of international protection in mixed flows and in cooperating with FRONTEX where ever possible, and to welcome the development of the regional protection programs and the enhancement of the dialogue and cooperation on international protection with third countries. [***]

9. To invite FRONTEX to implement its decision to carry out a pilot project for the creation of an operational office in the eastern Mediterranean, in Piraeus, as soon as possible in 2010. The Council takes note that Frontex has agreed that, on the basis of an independent external evaluation, it may decide whether to pursue the pilot project and/or establish other Frontex operational offices as appropriate, and invites FRONTEX to report to Council on the matter.

Concerning the development of the European Surveillance System – EUROSUR, the Council has agreed:

10. To call on the Member States to implement the phases and steps laid down for the development of EUROSUR as soon as possible, in order to reinforce cooperation and Member States’ border surveillance capabilities. The Council invites the European Commission to report on EUROSUR progress on mid-2010.

11. To urge relevant Member States to establish or further develop a single national border surveillance system and a single national Coordination Centre. A network of national Coordination Centres, compatible with the FRONTEX Information System, and available on a 24/7 basis in real time, should be fully operational on a pilot basis as of 2011, involving as many Member States of the southern and eastern external borders as possible. The Commission is invited to present legislative proposals if necessary to consolidate the network of Member States by 2013.

12. To create a Common pre-frontier intelligence picture in order to provide the Coordination Centres with pre-frontier information provided by Member States, Frontex and third countries. To this end, the Council invites Frontex, in close cooperation with the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to implement the study carried out by the Commission in 2009.

13. To encourage cooperation by neighbouring third countries in border surveillance. It is essential that within the territorial scope of EUROSUR and in the current financial framework, financial and logistic support from the European Union and its Member States be made available to the third countries whose cooperation could significantly contribute to controlling illegal immigration flows, in order to improve their capacity to manage their own borders.

14. To invite the Commission to report before the end of 2010 on how the conclusions of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) border surveillance group on common application of surveillance tools, such as satellites, could be implemented in the EU land and sea borders. [***]

Concerning solidarity and the integrated management of external borders by the Member States, the Council has agreed:

17. To request Frontex and the Member States concerned to further develop the European Patrols Network (EPN) in order to generalize bilateral joint maritime patrols, in particular between neighbouring Member States at the southern and eastern maritime borders, taking into account the experience gained on joint police patrols in the context of the Prüm Decision, and to ensure the full integration of the EPN in the EUROSUR network. [***]

Concerning the cooperation with third countries, the Council has agreed:

22. To ensure that the migration policy objectives are at the centre of the political dialogue with relevant third countries of origin and transit, with a view to the strategic, evidence based and systematic implementation of the Global Approach to Migration in all its dimensions, i.e. legal migration, illegal immigration and migration and development. This also requires, as a matter of principle, that all parties concerned assume their responsibilities in terms of return and readmission of migrants entering or staying illegally, including those migrants who have entered or tried to enter the European Union illegally from their territory. [***]

24. To enhance in particular the implementation of the Global Approach in the dialogue on migration with the main countries of origin and transit, such as, in accordance with the Stockholm Programme, those of the Mediterranean area, the East and South-Eastern Europe and Africa. This process may cover, on a case by case basis, all aspects of migration, including also cooperation on and support of border management, return and readmission, and, where appropriate, mobility issues. In doing so, the EU will promote human rights and the full respect for relevant international obligations. Dialogue and cooperation should be further developed also with other countries and regions such as those in Asia and Latin America on the basis of the identification of common interests and challenges.

25. To implement actively the European Council Conclusions of June and October 2009, including in particular by taking forward the dialogue on migration with Libya, with a view to setting up in the short term an effective cooperation. The Commission is invited to explore, as a matter of urgency, a cooperation agenda between the European Union and Libya with a view to including initiatives on maritime cooperation, border management (including possibilities for the development of an integrated surveillance system), international protection, effective return and readmission of irregular migrants and issues of mobility of persons.

26. To welcome the constructive resumption of the formal negotiations on a EU/Turkey readmission agreement, which makes provision for the return of third country nationals, and to call for its conclusion as a matter of urgency, and to stress that adequate implementation of already existing bilateral readmission agreements remains a priority. Building on the dialogue now under way with Turkey, the Council invites the Commission, the Member States and Turkey to further develop cooperation on migration, international protection and mobility issues. The Commission is also invited, in the context of the existing Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) financial framework, to explore possibilities to provide adequate financial means to improve Turkish capacity to tackle illegal migration, including support to the implementation of the Turkish integrated border management system.

27. To underline the importance of swift finalisation of the negotiation of Article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement, the revision of which should seek to reinforce the three dimensions of the Global Approach, and in particular the effectiveness of readmission obligations.

28. To invite the Commission to identify the necessary means to support enhanced capacity building and infrastructures in relevant third countries, so that they can control efficiently their external borders and tackle illegal immigration, taking also into account the assessments made by FRONTEX.

29. To invite the Commission to report on the implementation of these Conclusions by the end of 2010.”

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