Minister Fitzgerald in high-level EU discussions on migration and terrorism 

  • Discusses Commission proposal for European Agenda on Migration with EU colleagues
  • Minister emphasises need for sustained momentum and vigilance in fight against terrorism

16 June, 2015

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, TD today participated in high-level discussions with EU Justice and Interior Ministers in Luxembourg on the EU response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and the ongoing fight against terrorism.

Ministers discussed a number of proposals by the EU Commission including resettlement and the emergency relocation of migrants arriving on European shores. The Ministerial discussion focussed heavily on the Commission proposal to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU Member States.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Fitzgerald said:

“We had a very useful and open discussion on the European Agenda on Migration proposals that the Commission has put forward. Ireland welcomes the Agenda and recognises its importance in setting out a vision of where the EU needs to go in dealing with migration into the future. This issue needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner and this proposal is a good starting point.

The EU must respond to the humanitarian crisis but the response must also be underpinned by effective actions to combat illegal migration. In this regard, the focus on tackling people smuggling and organised crime is to be welcomed. It is important that the immediacy of the crisis should not deflect from the broader issues giving rise to the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean. That is why today I emphasised the need to address root causes.

In relation to the Commission’s proposal on relocation, I made it clear that, while we and a number of other Member States have issues with mandatory distribution, we want to participate in finding solutions to this crisis and to supporting Member States under pressure. That is why we are engaging fully in the discussions on the proposed emergency relocation mechanism.

Any Irish participation in this relocation scheme would have to be approved by the Government and the Oireachtas. Only when we have a clear idea of the precise implications of these proposals, for the individuals involved and for Ireland, can we make a final decision on the part we can play.”

The Minister emphasised that Ireland has already responded generously and advised EU colleagues of the details of Ireland’s response to the ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean, including the initiative to resettle 520 refugees in 2015-16 – almost double the number allocated under the Commission’s scheme.

Today’s discussions will inform the Heads of State and Government who will discuss this matter again at the European Council next week.

 

Among the other items addressed at the meeting was the fight against terrorism. In light of the recent atrocities in Paris and Brussels in 2015, Justice and Home Affairs Ministers continue to prioritise actions to respond to this ongoing and serious threat. Ministers discussed a report from the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator on the implementation of the measures agreed at the special European Council in February 2015.

Minister Fitzgerald welcomed greater and more focused cooperation between the Member States in dealing with the persistent and growing threat from terrorism.

The Minister said, “The continuing threat of terrorism faced by the Member States is not just from within the European Union itself. As with the migration crisis the response must include cooperation with countries outside the Union as well as addressing the core issues feeding radicalisation and extremism.”

The Minister also emphasised the need to maintain a focus on partnership with the internet and social media service providers in tackling the phenomenon of online radicalisation.

Finally, Ministers also discussed the new Internal Security Strategy for the European Union which prioritises cybercrime for the first time.

The Minister said, “The threats to the security of the EU are multi faceted and constantly evolving. It is essential that we put in place a new blueprint for cooperation between the Member States, the institutions and the community we seek to protect.”

ENDS...//