· Migration discussions focussed on both the internal and external aspects of addressing migration
· EU Ministers observed a minute’s silence in sympathy and solidarity with the UK over last week’s Westminster attack, and expressed determination and defiance against terrorism.
· Held bilateral meeting with EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vìra Jourová
· Met with Hungarian and Dutch Ministers to discuss strengthening the role of the European Network on Victims Rights.
28 March 2017
Minister of State for Justice with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton, T.D. attended a two-day meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers in Brussels which concluded today. Discussions focussed on migration, security and counter-terrorism. The meeting, held in the wake of the London terror attacks, began with Ministers observing a minutes silence to express sympathy and solidarity with the UK and to demonstrate the continued commitment of the Union to stand firm together in defiance against such attacks intended to undermine the common EU values of democracy and freedom.
Ministers discussed migration, particularly the Malta Declaration of last month and the Valletta Joint Action Plan which set out ways to save lives and reduce dangerous patterns of illegal migration into the EU from outside. Minister Stanton said: “The Council must continue to work with countries of origin and countries of departure to help address the root causes of migration and to prevent people from setting out on perilous journeys to Europe.”
Ministers discussed Relocation and the state of play of relocation from Greece and Italy. Minister Stanton told the Council that Ireland is working closely with Greece to ensure that Ireland meets its commitments for relocations. Ireland has in place a programme to ensure that these relocation commitments will be met by September this year. Minister Stanton also updated colleagues on Ireland’s successful resettlement programme, in which Ireland has met and surpassed its resettlement quota.
Commenting on the discussions, the Minister said that “the EU response to the continued migratory flows to Europe must be multifaceted. The focus of this Council was on returns, working with key third countries and showing internal solidarity through relocation measures. These are all part of a comprehensive solution to this complex issue. Equally, we need to ensure that our asylum systems function well, we need to deter illegal flows, and we must offer more and better opportunities for legal pathways to Europe. Only through such a balanced approach can the EU succeed on this challenging issue.”
Security and Counter-terrorism
Ministers discussed the continued threat of terrorism including the return to the EU of Foreign Terrorist Fighters from conflict zones. The Council was also updated on progress towards strengthening border security against terrorism and crime, and measures against terrorist financing.
Ministers examined possible actions to take to address the potential issues posed by foreign terrorist fighters returning to the EU. This included better information sharing, working with third countries, developing risk assessment tools, addressing the unique problems posed by different returnees, and ensuring consistent criminal justice responses to terrorist crimes.
Meeting with Commissioner Jourová
Minister Stanton held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourová to exchange views on a number of the proposals arising under the Commissioners brief. Minister Stanton took the opportunity to discuss issues arising in relation to cooperation in justice matters between the EU and the UK following the UK exit.
European Network on Victims Rights
Minister Stanton met with his Hungarian and Dutch counterparts to discuss plans to strengthen the role of the European Network on Victims Rights especially in relation to the tasks performed in cross border cases. Minister Stanton recalled that Ireland is a founding member of the project to establish the European Network on Victims Rights and has found its participation in the work of the Network to be very beneficial and rewarding. Noting the potential for the Network to grow and further strengthen co-operation between Member States in this policy area, Minister Stanton undertook to work with his colleagues to progress the important work of the Network.