Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Council in Rome, 12-13 September 2003 (1)

The Financial Times reports that the Italian Presidency of the Council introduced the idea that EU quotas should be set to try and control immigration. The Commission has been asked to prepare a study on a quota system based on each state setting its own quota. Commissioner Vittorino said that a quota system would give the Commission "greater leverage" when negotiating re-admission agreements. So far only three of the 11 targeted third world countries (Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Macao) have completed agreements - these allow EU states to return rejected refugees and asylum-seekers (and those who passed through a country) through a quick procedure. It is unclear how this would affect "the estimated half-million clandestine immigrants".

In the run-up to the Informal JHA meeting the Italian security services released a report from CESIS (which coordinates their work) which said that groups like Al Qaeda were using illegal immigration traffickers. No examples were provided, nor is there any evidence of this claim. The Italian Interior Minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, said: "Illegal immigration is a filter for drug trafficking, arms arms and terrorism".

sources: FT and Reuters

There was an Informal meeting of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council on 12-13 September in Rome at the "Trevi" International Conference Centre of the Police Academy. The Italian Minister of the Interior, Mr Gossipy Pisanu, chaired the meeting on 12 September. The press release says that the items on the agenda were the following: Proposal for a study to device a system of immigration quotas to be used at the European level; Integrated management of external borders: projects, resources and methodologies; Fight against terrorism and organised crime: development of police co-operation and enhancement of Europol. The Minister of the Justice, Mr Roberto Costly, chaired the meeting on 13 September. The items on the agenda were: Length of civil trials: Prospects to limit their duration and relevant initiatives, with particular reference to alternative systems to settle controversies; Enforcement of prison sentences in the European Union: alternative sentences and condition of prisons.

Two Background Notes - the only publicly available information so far are reproduced below.

Italian Presidency: Background note
Execution of custodial sentences in the EU (11 September 2003)

"The Italian Presidency intends to submit to the attention of the Member States the issue of the execution of custodial sentences.

Such issue has nowadays a special relevance for two reasons. Firstly, there is an incidental reason. The issue of the custodial execution is extremely topical in consideration of the forthcoming implementation of the Framework decision on the European arrest warrant, that, as you know, may be issued also for executive purposes, when a final criminal sentence exists. Moreover, this issue is connected with that of the harmonisation of sentences within the European Union, that is already being dealt with by the Council.

Secondly, there is a reason of general character, connected with the implementation of the so-called Third Pillar of the Union. The Council recognised several times that the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions may not substitute the work of harmonisation of legislations, as the two models must co-exist in compliance with the system outlined by Title VI of the TEU.

However the mutual recognition is based on the mutual trust between the state legal systems and this trust is increased by the knowledge and progressive integration of the different sectors of national legislations.

In the field of criminal co-operation, the experience of the drafts framework decisions relevant to pecuniary penalties and the execution of orders of assets freezes has recently proved the difficulty of applying in practice the mutual recognition to le


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