EU Home Affairs ministers on October 8 in Luxembourg have discussed strengthening measures of managing the migration flows in the wake of the Lampedusa tragedy as well as the Syrian refugee crisis.
“On behalf of the Council Presidency and Lithuanian Government I wish to express deep sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims as well as solidarity with the Italian institutions. This is one of those heavy moments when difficult questions have to be solved by entire Europe. We must make sure to achieve long-term solutions to stop such tragedies from repeating themselves,” said Minister of Home Affairs of Lithuania Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas.
The Council discussed a package of possible measures that strive for sustainable solutions to avoid the repetition of such tragedies. Ministers took note of the information provided by the Italian delegation and the European Commission and expressed their determination to use all possible measures at EU level to prevent such tragedies in the future. It was proposed to set up a joint task force that would prepare an action plan that would include all practical measures and tools in the possesion of the EU.
Ministers underlined the need to enhance the cooperation and dialogue with neighbours and countries of origin and transit of immigrants and to strenghten the management of external borders, especially by a more efective use of the Frontex agency. They have also stressed that the fight against organised goups involved in trafficking of human beings is essential.
The Ministers have also discussed the issue of the assisting some two million Syrian refugees and dealing with the situation where more than half of the EU Member States have received refugee applications.
“We are extremely worried about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the refugee situation. We have to address their immediate needs but also to seek a long-term comprehensive solution which includes the regional assistance program put in place by the Commission. It should also include measures to deal with the problem of highly increased numbers of Syrian citizens to the European Union, especially seeking to assist those Member States which are immediately affected,” said Minister Barakauskas.
The Council committed to monitoring the situation in Syria and providing the guidelines for the response on the EU level. The EU and its Member States will continue providing the humanitarian assistance and support for the persons in need of protection and to the neighbouring countries of Syria.
The Council has also returned to the issue of free movement, already discussed in June. It took note of the interim report of the Commission on the free movement of persons and the related internal and social security problems. Council will discuss the final report after it is presented.
The ministers have agreed that Hungary will provisionally host the European Police College seat in Budapest after United Kingdom indicated it no longer wants to host it on its territory. Relevant legislation will have to be amended.
The High Representative of for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton i addressed the issue of civilian capabilities for CSDP missions and urged the Member States to ensure their active participation.