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Press Release
The main conclusions of the "Home Affairs" Council of 24 February 2005

Date of release : 24-02-2005

Policy area : Justice and Home Affairs Justice and Home Affairs

Event : Justice and Home Affairs Council

During the second part of the "Justice and Home Affairs" Council, which was held in Brussels on Thursday 24 February 2005, four major topics were dealt with.

Three texts were examined within the framework of the Joint Committee which associates Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. First of all, a Council proposal modifying the regulation on the reciprocity mechanism was examined. "The aim is to adapt the mechanism provided for in this regulation in order to respond to situations of non-reciprocity where a third country, whose nationals are exempt from visas, maintains or introduces visa requirements for nationals of one or several Member States", stated the Luxembourg Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Nicolas Schmit. The Joint Committee was therefore required to adjust this regulation and seek common direction for a new text which would introduce flexibility, while maintaining a significant degree of solidarity within the European Union.

On another subject, the Joint Committee managed to adopt conclusions on the insertion of biometric data in visas and residence permits. Nicolas Schmit explained that "a number of technical matters still required attention, namely on the choice of an option to reinforce visa security."

The Joint Committee then came out in favour of extending access to the visa information system (VIS) to include the competent internal security authorities. Nicolas Schmit explained that "so far, the system has been limited to the area of visa policy. On the basis of conclusions made by the Council of February 2004, the VIS should form part of our policy on the fight against organised crime and international terrorism." The Committee therefore agreed on conclusions which will need to be finalised in order for the Commission to introduce a legal instrument enabling such access.

The "Justice and Home Affairs" Council, made up of the 25 Member States, also debated the Commission Green Paper on legal migration. For Nicolas Schmit, "the discussions were very positive because this document generates lively debate; it does not provide ready-made answers but does open up several possibilities and reflections on economic immigration."

 In conclusion, discussions were held within this context on the letter sent to the Member States regarding a reciprocal early-warning information system between Member States’ migration and asylum policy-makers. Nicolas Schmit noted the very broad agreement on the principle of introducing such a system. The Commission will have to submit the policy directions at the next "JHA" Council of April, so that a more concrete proposal for implementing such a system can be put forward at the same Council in June.

This page was last modified on : 25-02-2005

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