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European Union/immigration

Published on October 27, 2014
Reply by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris, October 22, 2014

The situation you’ve described is indeed the one we’re familiar with. Your question is about the need today to build a genuine common immigration policy in Europe.

It must focus on controlling our borders, combating people-smuggling rings and networks, including in the countries of departure and transit, and also on our ability to bring stability to the countries of origin.

I’d first like to remind you that a Schengen reform was adopted in June 2013 allowing certain rules, such as the evaluation mechanism, to be strengthened, and internal border control to be temporarily introduced in exceptional circumstances.

Schengen allows us, through cooperation, to control entries to European territory more effectively together. But it doesn’t prevent us, if there are shortcomings, from temporarily re-establishing internal borders.

Secondly, it is up to us to ensure that these rules are effectively applied by every Schengen Area member state.

On this subject, the government is taking initiatives. As you know, on France’s behalf and in conjunction with the other European interior ministers, Bernard Cazeneuve initiated the adoption of a comprehensive action plan to better manage migratory flows.

As regards the immediate future, it was decided at the last Justice and Home Affairs Council that a reinforced Frontex operation – called Triton – will replace Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation in November.

The operation will control the EU’s external borders – which, incidentally, doesn’t mean it will be conducted without applying the law of the sea or rescuing people who are shipwrecked, should this happen.

No country alone today can monitor these borders in the Mediterranean.

Finally, we’ll fully and coherently implement the Common European Asylum System – i.e. the arrival of migrants on European territory must be ensured and controlled./.

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