Conclusions of EU Summit on 16-17 October 2003


The Conclusions of the EU Summit of Prime Ministers on 16-17 October in Brussels cover management of common borders, controlling migratory flows and judicial and police cooperation.

Of note in the further development of "Fortress Europe" is the formal announcement that a "Border Management Agency" is to be set up to "enhance operational cooperation for the management of external borders" - this Agency will head the national Border Management Centres and the Air Border Centre plus two Maritime Border Centres.

The Conclusions also note "with satisfaction" the work being undertaken in the EU and international fora on "the introduction of biometric identifiers in visas, residence permits and passports". They call for agreement by the end of the year on the development of the Visa Information System and the Schengen Information System (SIS II) - this is a reference to the intention to include biometric and personal data gathered at national level for visas and residence permits (and in the future EU passports) on SIS II, see: Biometrics - EU takes another step down the road to 1984: Statewatch report
Text of the Presidency Conclusions - 16/17 October 2003:

"STRENGTHENING FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE

Managing the Union's common borders

25. The European Council stresses that with the forthcoming enlargement, the Union's borders are expanding, and recalls the common interest of all Member States in establishing a more effective management of borders, in particular with a view to enhancing the security of their citizens.

26. Recalling the conclusions of its Thessaloniki meeting, the European Council welcomes the Commission's intention to pursue rapidly the examination of the allocation of 140 million euros envisaged for the period 2004-2006, in order to cover the most pressing needs in this area, especially in supporting the management of external borders, the implementation of the return action programme and the development of the Visa Information System (VIS).

27. The European Council underlines the importance of full implementation of the Plan for the management of external borders and the setting up of the pending air border centre and two maritime border centres. All Border Management Centres should work closely together under the coordination of the Common Unit of External Borders Practitioners.

28. The European Council welcomes the Commission's intention to submit a proposal for the creation of a Border Management Agency, in order to enhance operational cooperation for the management of external borders, in time for the Council to reach a political agreement on the main elements by the end of the year. This proposal will draw on the experience of the Common Unit of External Border Practitioners.

29. The European Council takes note of the study carried out for the Commission on maritime borders and invites the JHA Council to draw up a work programme on this issue to be adopted by the end of the year.

Controlling migratory flows

30. The European Council confirms the top political priority ascribed to the issue of migration and reaffirms its commitment to a balanced approach between, on the one hand, the urgent need to stop illegal migration and to fight against the trafficking of human beings, and, on the other hand, the reception and integration of legal immigrants, in accordance with the principles and priorities set out in the European Councils in Thessaloniki, Seville, Laeken and Tampere.

31. It commits itself to the use of all appropriate instruments of the EU's external relations, within the global approach as defined in Thessaloniki, including strengthened partnerships with the third countries concerned, in pursuit of the EU's strategy to combat illegal migration. In this context the European Council:

· invites the Commission, the Council and the Member States to make every effort to facilitate the successful conclusion by the Community of readmission agreements. It invites the Council and the Commission to produce early next year a report identifying in particular the priorities of a common readmission policy and the measures taken to ensure the successful development of such a policy;

· reaffirms that a common return policy is a key element for an efficient and comprehensive immigration policy and invites the Council and the Commission to give the highest priority to the implementation of the action plan adopted in November 2002. In this framework, it welcomes the Commission's intention to present a proposal, taking into account the financial perspectives, to provide financial support for the repatriation, in full compliance with humanitarian principles and respect for the dignity of the person, of illegal immigrants and unsuccessful applicants for asylum to countries of origin and transit;

· notes with satisfaction the work under way within the Union and in international bodies (ICAO, G8) on the introduction of biometric identifiers in visas, residence permits and passports; calls upon the JHA Council to reach a political agreement by the end of 2003 on the two Commission proposals for Council Regulations on biometric identifiers and to take the necessary decisions on the development of the Visa Information System (VIS) and the Schengen Information System (SIS) II, while fully respecting the envisaged timetable for the introduction of the SIS II.

32. Furthermore, while recognising that each Member State is responsible for the number of legal immigrants admitted to its territory, in accordance with its law and reflecting its specific situation, including labour markets, the European Council takes note of the Commission's initiation of a study into the relationship between legal and illegal immigration and invites all Member States, Acceding States and Candidate States to cooperate fully with the Commission to this end.

33. The European Council calls upon the JHA Council to complete its work urgently on proposals for the asylum qualification and procedures directives, in order to comply with the deadline already set by the Seville and Thessaloniki European Councils for the end of 2003, to enable the Union to tackle asylum abuse and inefficiency while fully respecting the Geneva Convention and its humanitarian traditions.

Judicial and Police Cooperation

34. The European Council calls for continued efforts towards closer police, judicial and customs cooperation and a strengthening of law enforcement cooperation, particularly as concerns the operational fight against serious crime and terrorism.

35. It reaffirms the importance of the fight against drug trafficking and calls for adoption of the Commission proposal for a Council Framework Decision on this subject, if possible by the end of 2003.

36. It welcomes the approval of the Council Regulation on parental responsibility and matrimonial matters, which, by allowing the recognition and enforcement throughout the Community of national judgements, will greatly enhance citizens' access to justice in matters of direct concern to them in their daily lives. This Regulation constitutes in particular an important step in the creation of a coherent legislative framework for the custody and the protection of minors."


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