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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Presentation by Luc Frieden and Nicolas Schmit of the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency for "Justice and Home Affairs" to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Date of release : 18-01-2005

Policy area : Justice and Home Affairs Justice and Home Affairs

On 18 January 2005, Luc Frieden, Minister for Justice, and Nicolas Schmit, Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and current Presidents of the "JHA" Council of the European Union, submitted the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency in the areas of justice, the fight against terrorism, internal security, asylum and immigration to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in Brussels.

Based on the ideas of freedom, security and justice, the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency are very much in keeping with the "Hague Programme" adopted by the European Council on 4 and 5 November 2004. The two Luxembourg representatives emphasised that this Presidency would be above all pragmatic.

With regard to security, therefore, Minister Frieden stated that the Luxembourg Presidency would seek to develop operational cooperation at European Union level. He went on to say that "it was necessary to move beyond national plans and think European so that the Member States could develop genuine multilateral cooperation", adding that "a culture of 'European security' must complement existing cultures of  'national security'."

Furthermore, the Presidency of the "JHA" Council wishes to initiate reflections on the management of internal crises with a cross-border impact. For the Luxembourg minister, therefore, "it is necessary to inject a new dynamic into the Task Force of Police Chiefs, opening up the debate on the future of Europol and issue of Europol’s operational competences."

In the presence of Gijs de Vries, the EU anti-terrorism coordinator, Luc Frieden stated that this fight remained a priority of the Luxembourg Presidency and that the European Union’s action to prevent terrorism had to be based on a genuine multidisciplinary approach. Furthermore, "to maintain a high level of security within the EU and to make progress in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the concept of information exchange based on the "availability principle" must be regarded as a major step forward in operational cooperation among police services," said the minister.

With regard to justice, he underlined that the Luxembourg Presidency would continue efforts aimed at consolidating the judicial area based principally on mutual recognition and reconciling legislation.

In criminal matters, the Minister for Justice made it clear that particular attention would be paid to developing the procedural guarantees which are "vital to maintaining the right balance between requirements linked to legal proceedings and those relating to defence rights, thereby enabling the mutual trust among Member States and the trust of European citizens in legal Europe to be repaid." As with police cooperation, improving information exchange backed by excellent relations between Eurojust and Europol represents a major challenge in judicial cooperation for the Luxembourg Presidency.

One of the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency is to seek a political agreement on the framework decision on the traffic data rentention and to make substantial progress with negotiations relating to the framework decision on the European evidence warrant. For Luc Frieden, "these two instruments should be of major importance in making the efforts to prevent and combat terrorist activities and organised crime more effective."

The President of the "JHA" Council also hopes that discussions on sentencing and carrying out penalties and legal disqualifications in a common judicial area can begin during this semester. The minister considers it necessary to improve information exchange relating to criminal sentencing and to introduce a European criminal record.

To conclude his remarks on this area, the Minister for Justice underlined that "the cross-border aspects of the rights of the family are of major importance as an area that affects the day-to-day life of European citizens."

With regard to freedom, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Nicolas Schmit, stated that the Luxembourg Presidency would be characterised by the application of the qualified majority vote in the Council and the co-decision procedure with the European Parliament to all measures relating to heading IV of the ECT aimed at strengthening freedom, except in the area of legal immigration. "The Luxembourg Presidency will seek to ensure that this change will be made in continuity and in an open spirit, in full cooperation with the European Parliament", he affirmed.

He emphasised that work relating to the long-term resident status for refugees and those benefiting from subsidiary protection would begin as soon as the Commission had submitted its directive proposal. In close cooperation with the Commission, the Presidency will ensure work is continued to create the appropriate structures linking the asylum services of the Member States and having to provide Member States with assistance in processing requests for asylum. On the same subject, Minister Schmit told the members of Parliament present that the Green Paper on economic immigration would be debated within the Council during this semester.

Regarding the external dimension of the asylum policy, he listed a number of tasks to which the Luxembourg Presidency attached great importance, such as strengthening partnerships both with countries and regions of origin and with those of transit.

The European Union’s return and readmission policy will also remain on the agenda.

The Luxembourg Presidency will do its utmost to improve cooperation between Member States with regard to controlling common external borders. To this end, it will seek to ensure that the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at External Borders is launched under the best conditions on the scheduled date of 1 May 2005. On this issue, the Minister for Immigration stated that "the Luxembourg Presidency intends to successfully conclude negotiations on the Community code relating to the crossing of borders by persons." The introduction and use of biometric identifiers will be pursued so as to guarantee more effective identification of holders of travel and residence documents.

Within the framework of the policy on visas, particular attention will be paid to the reciprocity mechanism and consular cooperation, including the launch of a process which should help set up joint application centres.

This page was last modified on : 19-01-2005

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