CRÉATION DE CENTRES DE TRANSIT EN AFRIQUE DU NORD
L’Algérie dit non
25 octobre 2004 - Page : 24
Les pays du Maghreb n’arrivent toujours pas à parler d’une seule voix.
Refus sur refus. Après le rejet exprimé tant par la Libye que par la Tunisie de voir s’ériger en Afrique du Nord, des centres de transit pour «filtrer» l’immigration clandestine, une proposition émise par certains pays européens, notamment la Grande-Bretagne, l’Italie et l’Allemagne, au cours d’une rencontre du G5 tenue récemment à Florence en Italie, l’Algérie a, à son tour, emboîté le pas à ses voisins maghrébins en rejetant de la manière la plus officielle qui soit, l’idée européenne.
Ainsi, tandis que certains bruits ont été colportés et grossis quant à un éventuel modus vivendi qu’auraient conclu, après tractations, les pays initiateurs avec notre pays, le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, a balayé d’un revers de main, une telle rumeur en déclarant, samedi 23 octobre, que «l’Algérie était contre la proposition faite par quelques pays européens de mettre en place au Maghreb des centres de transit des immigrants clandestins».
Les soupçons, de fait, levés sur la position algérienne, d’autres voix indiquent, quant à elles, que des négociations avec le Maroc sont actuellement à un stade assez avancé et parlent même de l’installation, secrète, d’un centre de transit sur le territoire chérifien.
Ils subordonnent l’assentiment marocain à la souplesse des pays européens vis-à-vis de ce pays, quant à la question du Sahara occidental. Car, en s’abstenant de voter la semaine précédente, les recommandations faites par le comité des Nations unies chargé des questions de colonisation, largement favorables à la partie sahraouie, ces mêmes pays ont poussé les dirigeants marocains à fermer les yeux et acquiescer au projet européen.
Quant à la Libye dont la position officielle, le rejet de cette initiative, avait été explicitée précédemment par son Premier ministre, Choukri Ghanem, que certaines informations indiquent qu’un projet-pilote d’un centre de transit financé par l’UE, sous la houlette du Haut Commissariat aux réfugiés serait actuellement à l’oeuvre.
L’idée, donc d’installer sur les terres de l’Afrique du Nord des «guichets» européens, a été, rappelle-t-on, «soufflée» par le Premier ministre britannique, Tony Blair. De fil en aiguille, la proposition anglaise a progressivement, fait l’effet boule de neige jusqu’à la tenue, à la mi-octobre, d’une rencontre entre les ministres de l’Intérieur des cinq pays européens formant le G5: L’Italie, la France, l’Allemagne, l’Angleterre, et l’Espagne, au cours de laquelle les trois premiers avaient soutenu le souhait de Tony Blair, ont appelé à la création de centres d’accueil à travers les pays du Maghreb pour, selon les ministres allemands, anglais et italiens, «filtrer» les candidats désireux d’entrer en Europe. Ces guichets seraient conçus de telle façon à permettre un premier tri parmi les candidats à l’exil.
Toutefois, le projet de la troïka fut contesté par la France et l’Espagne qui ont émis des doutes, quant au respect des conditions humaines à l’intérieur des centres. Ils ont également mis en garde contre les violations des droits de l’homme, si récurrents en pareille situation.
EU to Tackle Asylum and Security Policy
DW-WORLD .de 25 oct 2004
EU Justice and Interior ministers on Monday will discuss the future policy course on a wide-ranging security and immigration program that includes controversial proposals for refugee detention camps in Africa.
The two-day meeting in Luxembourg which opens Monday is expected to focus on further harmonization on national asylum rules and better exchange of information to fight terrorism.
On the table are plans to create a common EU border guard, a European public prosecutor, as well as coordinating migration policies.
There is little doubt that some of the issues are controversial and are further complicated by widely differing positions held by member states.
Sweden wants wide-ranging European cooperation when it comes to asylum, but not in the field of border security. Germany, on the other hand, is in favor of the EU setting up teams of national border experts who could help member states monitor and protect their borders with non-EU neighbors. These teams are envisaged turning into a European border guard at a later stage.
With similar arguments expected on a host of other delicate issues, the meeting is likely to trigger some lively debates. The border guard idea has been rejected before because some states believe protection of external borders is a national and not an EU matter.
At the heart of the talks are the goals in interior and justice affairs that the European Union has set in the so-called "Hague Program" and would like to see implemented by 2010. The Hague plan is a follow-up of the program adopted at the Tampere European Council in 1999.
In addition to the fight against terrorism and the coordination of police and legal forces to that purpose, the EU ministers are also expected to discuss German Interior Minister Otto Schily's controversial proposal to set up detention camps in Africa where asylum applications can be checked and processed outside the EU.
Though France and Spain rejected the proposal during a meeting in Florence recently, Schily has indicated that he is determined to pursue the issue at the meeting in Luxembourg.
"If you stop illegal immigrants from setting sail on the Mediterranean and bring them back to their point of origin, then you have to take care of their accommodation," Schily said recently. "What else can you do? They're not just going to simply disappear. We have to think of something."
Asylum, immigration to be tricky
The talks on asylum and immigration are expected to be to be the toughest at this week's meeting.
UK Home Secretary David Blunkett has insisted London will not accept a common European Union asylum and immigration system, The Times newspaper reported.
A UK Home Office spokesman was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying: "We won't sign up to an EU processing centre, any common border guard that would involve taking away our own border controls or any new EU consular service."
The UK and Denmark both have legal "opt-outs" from the EU Justice policies written into the existing treaties.
Agreement on biometric passports
Talks on the issue of introducing biometric data in EU passports, also one of Schily's pet projects, are expected to be much smoother.
The EU, together with non-member states Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, wants to make European passports foolproof by the introduction of a digital photograph and later also allow for digital fingerprints. Experts within the EU are still working on the technology and are expected to conclude their work soon.
"When it comes to selecting technology, we have to make sure that the chosen technology makes identification reliable," Schily said recently. "On the other hand, we have to ensure that the control procedures won't unduly slow down or hinder border crossings."
Ministers will also need to agree in Luxembourg on a timeframe for the introduction of the biometric data. Germany wants to start with a digital photograph by autumn next year.
Swiss to sign Schengen treaty
Monday's meeting of EU ministers will also see Switzerland sign the Schengen agreement and possibly agreement over a proposal to strengthen criminal law against ship pollution.
Three countries, Greece, Cyprus and Malta have been holding up the proposal, which would introduce a ceiling for the maximum fines and set jurisdiction for offences committed outside the territory of a Member State.
LUXEMBOURG, 25 oct (AFP) L'UE finalise son nouveau plan sur l'immigration, la justice et la sécurité
L'Union européenne a finalisé lundi son nouveau plan pluriannuel sur les politiques de justice et d'affaires intérieures, axé sur les relations avec les pays d'origine et de transit pour l'immigration, et sur l'échange d'informations dans la coopération policière.
Réunis à Luxembourg, les ministres de l'Intérieur et de la Justice se sont attaqués aux derniers points litigieux du programme dit "de La Haye", qui sera entériné par les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement début novembre, cinq ans après la naissance d'une politique européenne dans ces domaines.
La présidence néerlandaise a souhaité mettre l'accent sur la réalisation effective de ce qui a déjà été décidé, davantage que sur de nouveaux projets.
Sous l'impulsion du commissaire européen Antonio Vitorino, l'UE a en effet adopté de nombreux textes législatifs, mais souvent au prix d'une faible harmonisation du fait de la règle de l'unanimité qui régit encore ces questions, au coeur de la souveraineté étatique.
Dans le domaine de l'asile, le Royaume-Uni, l'Allemagne et le Portugal ont ainsi avancé leur réticences à aller vers un système commun d'asile en 2010, préférant attendre l'évaluation des normes minimales sur l'accueil des réfugiés et l'examen de leurs demandes adoptées ces dernières années.
"Il y a une certaine lassitude de la législation. Mais on est arrivé à des normes minimales communes avec beaucoup d'exceptions nationales qui font que la plus-value est très limitée", a jugé M. Vitorino.
Si l'UE ne reprend pas pour l'instant l'idée de centres pour demandeurs d'asile en Afrique du Nord, comme le souhaitaient l'Allemagne et l'Italie, la coopération avec les pays d'origine et de transit est au coeur du programme, avec l'objectif d'empêcher les immigrants de traverser la Méditerranée.
L'UE veut maintenir les réfugiés dans des zones de protection au plus près des pays en crise, aider les pays de transit du Maghreb à devenir des pays d'accueil et inclure des clauses de réadmission de clandestins dans les accords d'association qu'elle conclut.
"Il faut lier politique de coopération et d'immigration", a insisté le ministre français Dominique de Villepin.
La France et l'Allemagne se sont cependant opposées à la mention de quotas d'immigration légale, réclamés par l'Espagne ou l'Italie, estimant que cette compétence appartient aux Etats.
Le texte évoque également des services communs à l'étranger pour les demandes de visas Schengen et la création à terme d'un corps européen de gardes-frontières, mais cette dernière idée est rejetée par plusieurs nouveaux Etats membres.
Dans le domaine de la coopération policière et judiciaire, qui s'est développée après les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 avec l'adoption du mandat d'arrêt européen, le texte insiste sur l'échange d'informations.
La présidence néerlandaise propose qu'en 2008, toute information policière soit accessible immédiatement aux services de sécurité d'un autre Etat membre.
Pour la France et le Royaume-Uni, la mise en pratique de ce principe pose cependant de nombreux problèmes sur la nature de ces informations, leur sécurité et le respect des droits qui y sont attachés.
"Dans les attentats du 11 mars à Madrid, c'est l'échange d'informations avec un pays tiers, le Maroc, qui a été en cause, pas celui au sein de l'UE", souligne un diplomate français.
En droit civil, le texte est très frileux, l'Allemagne, l'Irlande et le Danemark étant réticents à toute avancée sur la famille.
Ce programme sera révisé en 2006 en fonction de l'entrée en vigueur de la Constitution européenne, qui prévoit une extension des compétences de l'UE ainsi que le passage à la majorité qualifiée.
Slovakia opposes joint EU border police and recognition of same-sex partnerships INTERIOR and justice ministers for the EU drew months-long talks to a conclusion with a draft programme at a session in Luxemburg October 25. Among topics under consideration have been the EU's future programme for justice and police cooperation , and asylum and immigration policy.
Slovakia managed to successfully exclude several proposals from the draft programme. "We didn't allow a plan for a European border police, a sort of supplement to existing national border forces, to be included, " interior minister Vladimír Palko told TASR after the session.
Although the document says the EU will address the same issue in two years time, "I can tell you right now that we will still have the same opinion," insisted Palko.
The Slovak interior minister also opposed the idea that majority, rather than unanimous, voting decide some EU asylum and immigration policies. In addition to Slovakia, opposition to majority voting came from Germany, Denmark and Poland.
"We failed to reach an agreement over this issue and a decision will probably be made at an EU summit," he said, adding that the draft programme is due to be approved by EU country-leaders at a November 4-5 summit.
The Slovak Justice Ministry had two key objections to the draft programme - the mutual recognition of same-sex partnerships and the establishment of a European prosecutor's office.
Under the wording approved at the session, there would be no obligation for EU countries to recognise same-sex partnerships, according to justice minister Lipšic.
The minister also opposes the idea of an EU prosecutor's office, as proposed by the yet-to -be approved EU constitution. Since several other countries uphold Lipšic's view, the minister believes this issue will be dropped from the programme. On the other hand, Slovakia does support greater powers for Eurojust, an EU body that coordinates the activities of national prosecutors.
"That's the area where the EU may provide some added value, but introducing a prosecutor's office would contravene the subsidiarity principle," Lipsic claimed.
Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
EU split over future asylum policy Mon 25 October, 2004 14:31
By Marie-Louise Mollre
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union is divided over how far to go in building a common asylum system and whether to set up a common border guard to protect the bloc's vast external frontiers, a plan opposed by Home Secretary David Blunkett.
While France said it supported the idea of EU states jointly patrolling the bloc's external borders, Blunkett said he had made it clear to current EU president, the Netherlands, that Britain opposed such plans.
"There won't be a centrally run border control agency. There will be a set of expertise developed for the whole of the European Union," he told reporters on Monday. "That is the way in which we will go."
Blunkett said Britain had already helped Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece patrol their sea borders and London had also offered its help to the EU's new member states in eastern Europe, which border Russia and Ukraine.
Paris and London also disagreed over how fast the EU should progress towards a common asylum system. French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said France wanted the EU to have harmonised rules by 2010.
"There is a need to move to a common European system of asylum by 2010," he told reporters. "That should be time enough to get agreement."
EU justice and interior ministers meet on Monday and Tuesday to flesh out the 25-nation bloc's future policy on asylum, immigration and security policy before a November summit where EU leaders are expected to endorse the strategy.
But the EU was split in two groups -- each led by big member states France and Britain -- which disagreed over how far to take harmonisation of national asylum rules and proposals for the bloc to have joint border controls, diplomats said.
UK SAYS NO TO COMMON ASYLUM RULES
Blunkett said the EU should focus on practical work instead of harmonising national rules and that most EU governments shared London's reluctance to give up the right to decide their own policy in the sensitive area.
He said the EU should focus on agreements with non-EU states on returning unwanted migrants and stopping human trafficking.
"People are very mindful that they don't want to find themselves signed up to something that would disadvantage them."
Diplomats said the main focus of the EU's future policy on asylum would be on how to help states in Africa and Asia provide protection for refugees from their region and stem the flow of illegal migration to Europe.
The proposals have worried refugee rights groups and the United Nations which fear the EU is trying to shy away from its responsibility to take in asylum seekers.
But Sweden's Immigration Minister Barbro Holmberg said the proposals would mean more aid to poor developing countries.
The EU ministers will also discuss better exchange of information to fight terrorism and the idea of a European public prosecutor during their two-day meeting in Luxembourg.
A final draft of the EU's strategy will be presented to EU leaders at a November summit. It will then be transformed into a detailed action plan with concrete proposals from the European Commission next year.
European Union justice and interior ministers will debate one of the most ambitious set of plans put to them today, including the creation of an EU asylum office, joint processing of refugee claims and establishment of an EU border guard.
The ministers, who meet in Luxembourg to consider a five-year strategy programme, will also discuss co-ordinating policies on economic immigrants. The talks will cover moves to scrap the veto on immigration and asylum policy, a proposal to set up a European public prosecutor to combat fraud, and ideas for EU asylum-processing camps in north Africa.
Though the ideas will alarm Eurosceptics, the UK can afford to be relaxed about most of the programme, which is being assembled by the Dutch presidency of the EU for outline approval. Britain, Ireland and Denmark have opt-outs in most areas and the UK can remain outside most policies it dislikes.
But diplomats expect the justice and home affairs portfolio to be the biggest growth area of policy in the next few years because of the sensitivity of immigration and terrorism.
Antonio Vitorino, outgoing European commissioner for justice and home affairs, told The Independent, that, with an ageing population in Europe, illegal immigration and potential labour shortages, "we must have a system of co-ordination of economic immigration".
He said governments should retain the prerogative "to define the number and the profile of the economic immigrants admitted". Mr Vitorino cited the example of countries that, periodically, offer to regularise illegal immigrants, as Belgium has done. He said: "When there is an amnesty in one country it has immediate consequences for the situation of all immigrants in all member states, most of all for those in countries where there are no border controls [because of the Schengen free-travel zone]."
Also to be debated are proposals for an EU asylum office and joint processing of asylum claims, made inside or outside the EU. Yesterday a Home Office spokeswoman said the British government would oppose the creation of a common asylum system. She said: "The Home Secretary this morning telephoned the Dutch Interior Minister to make it clear that we won't sign up to an EU processing centre, any common border guard that would involve taking away our own border controls or any new EU consular service."
But the UK does back proposals to move to qualified majority voting on asylum and immigration issues. Under article 67 of the EU's governing treaty, the governments can agree to this and Britain knows that, it could opt out of any decision. The debate over ideas championed by Germany and Italy on EU asylum camps in north Africa is to continue. But Britain has cooled on the plan, instead focusing energies on trying to help countries producing the migrants to control their numbers. Camps are backed by Mr Vitorino's replacement, Rocco Buttiglione.
AFP 26 oct 04
EU agrees immigration plans, but opt-outs remain
LUXEMBOURG : The European Union on Monday agreed a new multi-annual plan aimed at boosting cooperation on immigration and asylum policy, but Britain insisted on retaining its opt-out on key issues.
EU interior ministers thrashed out remaining differences on the so-called Hague programme, which is due to be approved by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels next month.
The 25-member bloc's Dutch presidency stressed that the EU should focus on implementing what has already been agreed, rather than launching new projects.
Efforts to make immigration and frontier control issues subject to qualified majority voting, instead of unanimity as at present, foundered on German opposition.
Heads of state will have to try to resolve the issue in Brussels.
Earlier Britain said it backed EU efforts to boost cooperation on immigration and asylum policy but must retain a right to opt out of decisions which threaten its interests.
"We (are) clearly all in this together because people move through the new borders of eastern and central Europe," said British Home Secretary (Interior Minister) David Blunkett.
"So it is in our interest to get agreement about sensible border controls run by the countries themselves but supported by the rest of Europe."
Immigration has become a hot political issue in Britain as the government has sought to beat back popular fears of a flood of asylum-seekers and economic migrants from an enlarged European Union.
At his monthly news conference in London British Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was no question of Britain giving up its veto on border controls.
"We are not obliged to have any of the European rules here," he said.
"But where we decide in a particular area -- for example to halt the trafficking in people, for example to make sure that there are proper restrictions on some of the European borders that end up affecting our country - it allows us to opt in and take part in these measures."
"With the Treaty of Amsterdam seven years ago, we secured the absolute right to opt in to any of the asylum and immigration provisions that we wanted to in Europe," he said.
"Unless we opt in we are not affected by it. And what this actually gives us is the best of both worlds."
At the Luxembourg meeting France and Germany opposed any specific reference to legal immigration quotas, as pressed for by Spain and Italy.
On the issue of asylum Britain, Germany and Portugal expressed doubts about moving to a common policy by 2010, preferring to wait and see how recently adopted common standards for accepting asylum seekers and examining their requests were working out.
The idea of setting up centres for asylum seekers in north Africa, as advocated by Germany and Italy, failed to win general backing.
But there was agreement on the need to work with the countries of origin of the seekers and with those through which they transited, with the aim of stopping them from trying to cross the Mediterranean.
The EU wants to keep them in protected zones near countries in turmoil, help north African states take them in and write provisions about the return of illegal immigrants into association agreements. - AFP
October 26, 2004
Silence on asylum
The Government has acted dishonourably on the EU veto
Few issues are as sensitive, fraught or mishandled as asylum. Tony Blair made much of his personal initiatives to cut the number of asylum applicants; his Government has trumpeted recent falls in numbers as evidence of its success in getting a grip on the issue, although, in fact, it reflects a trend across Europe. It is therefore all the more bizarre that the Government should now be preparing to drop its veto on asylum and immigration issues within the European Union with barely any explanation and little attempt to forestall the outcry that Britain is surrendering sovereignty on an issue of crucial social and political importance.
Asylum, as well as immigration, police and other home affairs, for the past seven years has been an area in which Brussels has only a limited say. Until the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, EU justice and interior ministers met for consultations in some secrecy, excluding any role for the European Commission. Britain was one of the fiercest defenders of these intergovernmental arrangements, and agreed to a change only if it had an opt-out from common policies. But all decisions were still taken unanimously; governments generally feared a voter backlash against any dilution of sovereignty.
The enlargement of the EU to 25 has made all agreement on all subjects more complicated. It is crucial that EU members at least harmonise, if not standardise, asylum policies to stop would-be applicants, and especially economic migrants posing as victims of persecution, from shopping around.
At the same time, deserving applicants need to be swiftly and compassionately processed. Britain had, and still has, a clear interest in enforcing tougher policies — on border controls and repatriation — throughout the EU to deter asylum-seekers heading here. But unanimity made it hard to reach swift agreement among fifteen; with the addition of ten new members, which have limited experience and differing aims, talks would be glacial.
It is certainly in Britain’s interests to have broad guidelines that make asylum policy more workable. But could they really have been agreed only by surrendering, in perpetuity, the veto? The Government is right to be concerned about a border control agency run from Brussels, a single EU-wide asylum centre to handle applications or any diktat on how Britain should handle those arriving here.
Mr Blair claims that an “opt-out” on key policies will give the country the independence it needs. But the way the debate has been conducted, or not conducted, is a disgrace. Too much European policy is kept secret for fear of stirring embarrassing debate. This is undemocratic, regardless of the merits of the regulations. These are serious issues that are hardly just bureaucratic niceties, and yet David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, and Mr Blair pretend they are “tidying-up ” or less. On this issue, the Prime Minister is being less than straight.
Labour obviously fears that any talk of majority voting on asylum will be seized on by the Conservatives as a surrender to “Europe”, stoking anti-EU feeling. The precedent could weaken Labour’s stand against majority voting on tax, foreign policy and defence. None is any reason for stifling debate on an issue where ignorance is exploited by extremists. That debate should begin now, before a chunk of sovereignty is signed away.
La France et la Grande-Bretagne s'opposent sur la question des contrôles aux frontières de l'UE
Des désaccords entre la France et le Royaume-Uni ont émaillé les discussions entre ministres de l'intérieur de l'UE portant sur la sécurité et l'immigration. Les premiers pas vers la mise en place d'une procédure commune d'asile seront néanmoins effectués avant la fin de l'année.
Lors de leur réunion du 25 octobre, les ministres de l'intérieur de l'UE ne sont pas parvenus à trouver un terrain d'entente au sujet de la création de patrouilles communes chargées d'assurer la surveillance des frontières extérieures de l'Union.
Le ministre de l'intérieur britannique David Blunkett a pris la tête d'un groupe de pays hostiles au projet, affirmant qu'il n'était pas prêt à accepter la création d'une "agence de contrôle des frontières centralisée". Son homologue français, Dominique de Villepin, a pu, quant à lui, rallier autour de la position française un autre groupe d'Etats réclamant davantage de coopération dans ce domaine.
Les ministres sont cependant tombés d'accord pour reconnaître le besoin manifeste d'une plus grande coopération en matière de politique d'asile, pour la plus grande satisfaction de Dominique de Villepin qui prône la mise en place d'un système européen d'asile à l'horizon 2010. Dans cette perspective, les ministres ont appelé la Commission à leur soumettre, avant la fin de l'année, un plan d'action devant jeter les bases d'un tel système.
Le Conseil a également indiqué que le projet de programme multi-annuel sur l'espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice (le "programme de La Haye") devrait, sauf développement exceptionnel, être soumis pour approbation au Conseil européen le 4 novembre prochain.
Le Commissaire Vitorino a également présenté aux ministres de l'intérieur un ensemble de mesures anti-terroristes adoptées par la Commission la semaine dernière
EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (25 October) broadly agreed to a wide-ranging five-year programme of immigration and asylum measures, but failed to settle all disputes.
The issues will now be moved on to the table of EU heads of states, who will meet for a summit in Brussels on 5 November to sign the proposals included in the so-called "the Hague Programme".
The Hague Programme is a five-year plan in continuation of the earlier plan adopted at the Tampere European Council in 1999.
The plan aims to have in place a common EU asylum system in 2010, but the ministers on Monday failed to agree that asylum and immigration decisions should be taken by qualified majority voting and in co-decision with the European Parliament as of 1 April 2005.
The UK, Denmark and Ireland have a "legal exemption" in the EU treaties regarding this area of judicial co-operation.
"With the Treaty of Amsterdam seven years ago, we secured the absolute right to opt- in to any of the asylum and immigration provisions that we wanted in Europe", UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was quoted as saying by British media.
"Unless we opt-in we are not affected by it", he said.
The Hague Programme foresees the establishment of a common European office for asylum and joint processing of asylum applications inside and outside the EU, something that the Commission was asked by ministers to study further.
By 1 May 2005 a common frontier agency will be set up and a rapid reaction force of national experts tasked to manage control of external borders.
The eventual creation of a European corps of border guards will however also be subject for further discussion at the EU’s November Summit.