Tánaiste attends EU Justice and Home Affairs Council to discuss migration, security and counter-terrorism

  • Meets newly appointed French and U.K. Ministers
  • Ministers discuss international cooperation in response to threat of terrorism
  • Ongoing efforts to address the migration crisis in Europe also discussed

9 December, 2016

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD met EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers in Brussels today to discuss security, counter-terrorism and migration.

The Tánaiste took the opportunity to meet the newly appointed French Minister for the Interior, Mr Le Roux. They discussed the recent Dáil motion on unaccompanied minors and the Tánaiste reaffirmed the Irish offer of assistance. She also met with the UK Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Brandon Lewis.

Security and Counter Terrorism

The Tánaiste welcomed the agreement reached this week with the European Parliament on the new Counter-Terrorism Directive. She said the Directive, which now needs final political agreement, is part of the EU’s evolving response to the threat of terrorism.

“International cooperation is indispensable in countering the threat of terrorism which transcends national boundaries. Exchanging information and intelligence on terrorists strengthens our national authorities. This new Directive will criminalise more terrorist offences, extend the scope of existing law, and reinforce the overall EU approach on counter-terrorism. It will complement the Passenger Name Record Directive adopted earlier in 2016, to facilitate tracking and early identification of terrorists. We will protect our citizens against terrorism by protecting our borders against terrorists.”

Ministers also discussed ways to co-ordinate and strengthen responses by relevant authorities at national and cross border level. Discussions focused on sharing lessons learnt and improving techniques to strengthen mechanisms designed to respond to attacks. The Tánaiste said that “the attacks in recent years have made us very aware that we have to always be prepared both at a national and at Union level. It is vital to learn from each other and to have flexible and responsive planning to be able to react immediately to any emergency threat. The Council meeting included a demonstration by emergency services from a number of member states which specialise in dealing with terrorist threats and managing the consequences of an attack.”

Migration

Ministers also discussed ongoing efforts to address the continued flow of migrants into Europe. They examined ways to shape a comprehensive and sustainable approach to migration, now and in the longer-term, such as: · individualised approaches to meet the needs of member states under migratory pressures; · new proposals now being negotiated to reform the Common European Asylum System; · working with non-EU countries on tackling the root causes of migration.

The Tánaiste informed her counterparts that she will be travelling to Greece on Sunday with Minister Zappone to view the situation at first-hand and meet some of those affected.

Speaking on Ireland’s relocation commitments the Tánaiste informed her Ministerial counterparts that Ireland is working closely with Greek authorities to ensure that people are relocated to Ireland at a steady pace throughout 2017.

The Tánaiste also informed her colleagues that Ireland will have reached its resettlement quota from Lebanon well ahead of target, and so two further groups will be admitted from Lebanon to Ireland next year.

The Tánaiste also spoke about the Common European Asylum System and efforts at reform. Acknowledging that many challenges remain, she welcomed progress so far on negotiating the reform measures. The Council must continue to work towards a comprehensive approach to managing mixed migration flows to the EU.

The Tánaiste said that “we need a fair and equitable system that gives protection to those who need it. We should also ensure that there are mechanisms in place to provide appropriate and sufficient opportunities for people to come to Europe safely and legally. Taking this approach to migration will discourage people from setting out on dangerous land and sea journeys, by offering legal and safe ways to reach Europe.”

“In addition, part of our focus in going forward is now rightly on working with countries of origin to help address the root causes of migration. We want to work with countries of origin to assist in providing a stable environment for citizens of those countries to live, work and prosper at home.”

ENDS

Frances Fitzgerald TD

Frances Fitzgerald TD is Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality.

 

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Updated: 9 December 2016

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