European Union/immigration/fight against terrorism/meeting of the G6 interior ministers
Calais, November 6, 2014
Q. – Why convene a meeting of the G6 interior ministers today?
THE MINISTER – To make progress on two essential issues: the fight against terrorism and the question of migration in the Mediterranean.
Q. – Does that concern only six of the European Union’s 28 countries?
THE MINISTER – No, of course not, but those six countries are used to meeting in order to then make concrete proposals to the whole EU.
Q. – What proposals on terrorism?
THE MINISTER – It’s imperative that our police forces share their intelligence even better in order to dismantle terrorist networks.
Q. – They’re already doing so…
THE MINISTER – We must go further, by creating common tools like the European PNR, enabling us to better follow terrorists’ journeys through the Schengen Area so as to better neutralize them.
Q. – Europe isn’t really in favour of that…
THE MINISTER – All the member states already support this initiative, and we must now persuade the European Parliament, which is the joint decision-maker. I’d also like enhanced checks at the borders for certain departure points and destinations.
Q. – Is Turkey – which prospective jihadists are travelling through – providing enough intelligence?
THE MINISTER – We have a relationship of trust with Turkey. But that trust can be deepened every day.
Q. – Blocking a site will henceforth be possible in France. But what about elsewhere in Europe?
THE MINISTER – Several European countries are taking the same approach as us to combat terrorist propaganda on the web. We’ve begun discussing this with the major Internet operators, which have told us they want to go ahead with this regulation themselves. The counter-terrorism bill which I presented to Parliament and which has just been adopted stipulates that, if they don’t do it themselves, we’ll then proceed to close down sites.
Q. – Even on social networks?
THE MINISTER – The representatives of Facebook have already responded favourably to this request for regulation. They’ve acknowledged that any alerts which can be passed on to them in advance would enable them to react more quickly. Let me remind you that incitement to terrorism isn’t about freedom of expression, it’s a crime. The EU partners are playing an active role, and we’re making headway together.
Q. – Another challenge for the G6 is migration flows. With the end of the Mare Nostrum rescue capability, is Europe abandoning its migrants at sea?
THE MINISTER – Of course not. Operation Mare Nostrum was deployed by the Italians off the Libyan coast, which unfortunately led the criminal trafficking networks to put ever more migrants on increasingly dangerous vessels. From now on, by positioning its boats as close to the European coast as possible, Operation Triton [the name of the new operation] will enable genuine control of borders while allowing rescues to take place.
Q. – The EU seems to be losing interest in this issue…
THE MINISTER – On the contrary, Europe is reacting, and France plays no small part in that: we took the initiative of proposing this plan, which is now the EU’s road map. Since January, 120,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean. That affects the whole of Europe, and its response must combine humanity and responsibility. On this subject as on others, Europe isn’t the problem but the solution.
Q. – In order to resolve the issue of migration flows, you suggested that British police could come to Calais. Can you give more details?
THE MINISTER – No, I didn’t suggest that. I said it could be useful for British officials to come and explain to the migrants that it’s in their interest to request asylum in France rather than trying to go to Britain. This also features in the plan we agreed with the British. It also provides for them to contribute €15 million over three years to help make the port of Calais secure, and for joint work to dismantle illegal immigration rings. The agreement reached is good news for all the people of Calais.
Q. – Is illegal immigration the main problem the EU will have to face in future?
THE MINISTER – It’s one of the problems Europe must address, while bearing in mind that the main cause of this migratory pressure lies in the conflicts and civil wars that have broken out in Africa recently. The issue transcends Europe’s borders: it’s international./.