Sommaire: 14 December 2007, Brussels - Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council: Freedom, Security and Justice
The European Council welcomes the enlargement of the Schengen area and the abolition of controls at the internal borders of the Member States participating in the SISone4ALL project, as from 21 December 2007 for land and sea borders, and by 30 March 2008 for air borders, thus extending the effective free movement of persons.
The European Council welcomes the establishment of the "European Day against the Death Penalty" on 10 October each year.
Further developing a comprehensive European migration policy complementing Member States' policies remains a fundamental priority in order to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities which migration represents in a new era of globalisation. The European Council accordingly underlines the need for a renewed political commitment and takes note in that respect of the Commission's communication on a common immigration policy. It looks forward to the Commission's forthcoming proposals in 2008.
Cooperation with third countries remains vital for the purpose of well-managed migration flows and fight against illegal immigration.
The European Council welcomes the progress being made in the implementation of the Global Approach to Migration with regard to Africa and the Mediterranean, in particular the EU missions to African and the Mediterranean countries as well as the progress on the application of this Global Approach to the Eastern and South-Eastern neighbouring regions. It looks forward to the organisation of the second Euro-African ministerial conference on migration and development in 2008. It endorses the Council's conclusions of 10 December 2007 on mobility partnerships and circular migration and welcomes in that connection the decision to open dialogue with a view to launching pilot mobility partnerships with Cape Verde and the Republic of Moldova. The Commission is invited to report back on progress no later than June 2008.
The recent Euro-Med Ministerial meeting on Migration contributed to further development of practical cooperation with the Mediterranean partners in all areas of migration. The European Council welcomes the adoption by the 2nd Africa/EU Summit of a Joint Strategy which identifies migration as an area of mutual priority for which both sides will seek common solutions; the Action Plan to the Joint Strategy contains a partnership on migration, mobility and employment with a number of concrete measures to be taken in the next three years.
The European Council endorses the Council conclusions of 19 November 2007 on coherence between migration and development policies and calls for further work in this field. The European Council underlines the importance of further engaging in dialogue with the Latin American and Caribbean region.
There is a close link between migration, employment and the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. The European Council acknowledges that migration can have a significant impact on growth potential and employment growth, labour markets, adjustment capacity, productivity, competitiveness and public finances, whilst stressing that immigration is no substitute for structural reform. An effective immigration policy should be considered in the light of skills shortages and labour market requirements. Labour migration shall fully respect the Community acquis, Member States' competences in this field and the principle of Community preference for EU citizens. Recalling the meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers with Employment and Social Policy Ministers on 6 December, the European Council reaffirms that measures to promote integration are important, as are the efforts of migrants themselves to integrate.
The European Council invites the Council to take work forward on the recent Commission proposals on the admission of third country nationals for the purpose of highly qualified employment and on a single application procedure and a common set of rights for legally residing third country workers.
Combating illegal immigration requires concerted and effective measures directed to undeclared work and illegal employment, in particular through the effective enforcement of dissuasive sanctions. The Council and the European Parliament are invited to reach agreement by the end of 2008 at the latest on the proposals on sanctions against employers of illegally staying third country nationals. Work should also be taken forward following the Commission's communication on undeclared work.
The proper management of migration flows also requires work to be taken forward on the further strengthening of the integrated management of the external borders including addressing particular pressures faced by Member States, while fully respecting all international obligations. The European Council accordingly looks forward to the forthcoming Commission communications in February 2008 on an entry/exit system at the external borders, on the future development of Frontex and on a European Border Surveillance System.
The European Council also welcomes the progress made on the proposal for a Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third country nationals. It underlines the need for agreement on common standards in the area of return policy and encourages the Council and European Parliament to continue their efforts to find a basis for a swift agreement on the proposal while bearing in mind the particular circumstances of each Member State. The European Council reaffirms the need for an effective readmission and return policy.
The European Council underlines the need for progress on the future Common European Asylum System with a view to its realisation by 2010. To this end, the European Council invites the Commission to evaluate the implementation of the first phase and to present the necessary initiatives in 2008.
Integration is a pivotal element of the comprehensive European migration policy. The European Council calls for better coordination between migration and integration policies. In the context of the 2008 year of intercultural dialogue the European Council calls on the Commission and the Member States to stress the opportunities, benefits and challenges of migration in a pluralistic Europe.
The European Council welcomes the conclusion of visa facilitation and readmission agreements between the European Union and four Western Balkan countries (Bosnia Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia), Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, as well as the visa facilitation agreement with Albania, based on the process and considerations laid down in the Common Approach. Visa facilitation should encourage these countries to implement the relevant reforms and reinforce their cooperation with the EU in areas such as strengthening the rule of law, fighting organised crime and illegal migration, and increasing the security of documents by introducing biometry.
The strengthening of police and judicial cooperation remains a priority. The functioning of Eurojust and Europol must be improved; for the latter, this requires the Council to reach agreement on the decision establishing Europol by the end of June 2008 at the latest and to review regularly the state of play regarding the Implementation Plan. The European Council also welcomes the general approach for a Council Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation. Cooperation through mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters should be reinforced.
The European Council calls for rapid progress on the Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law.
Recent terrorist activity in Europe and numerous terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world reinforce the need for the Union and its Member States to remain fully committed to the implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
The European Council welcomes important work recently undertaken in many areas of the Strategy such as on the security of explosives and weapons, on cooperation between special intervention units (ATLAS), on the protection of critical infrastructure, on countering biological, radiological and on other non-conventional threats and the development of the Union's crisis coordination arrangements. The European Council welcomes the appointment by the SG/HR of Gilles de Kerchove as Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. It welcomes the suggestions made by the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator with a view to further strengthening the implementation of Counter Terrorism Strategy and calls for work to be taken forward rapidly on them.
The European Council welcomes work recently undertaken under the European Union Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism notably as regards radicalisation of youth and the role of the internet. It calls for its further strengthening in particular through EU sectorial programmes and instruments both within the Union and in cooperation with third countries. To the effect, it notes the Commission's intention to submit a communication on best practices on countering violent radicalisation in the course of 2008.
The European Council welcomes the adoption of the Decision establishing a Community Civil Protection Mechanism (Recast) and invites the Council and the Commission to make the best use of this instrument, along with the civil protection Financial Instrument, with a view to be ready to cope with major emergencies in the future. In this context the European Council looks forward to the forthcoming Commission proposal on reinforcing the Union's disaster response capacity.
The European Council reaffirms the need to enhance access to justice in the European Union via simplified and more efficient and accessible procedures, welcomes the achievements in the area of E-justice and calls for the continuation of work.
The European Council welcomes the political agreement on the Directive on some aspects of mediation on civil and commercial matters which will allow citizens and business to have access to an alternative dispute resolution mechanism enabling them to solve their cross border disputes in an effective way and on the Regulation on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) which are important elements of the European Justice Area.
The Council is invited to find solutions on the Regulation on jurisdiction and applicable law in matrimonial matters (Rome III). It is also invited to reach agreement on the Regulation on maintenance obligations taking into account the recent agreement on the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other forms of Family Maintenance. The European Council welcomes the signing of the new Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and calls for its swift ratification.
Recalling the Council conclusions of 8/9 November 2007 on combating cybercrime the European Council emphasises that further steps towards adopting a coherent EU policy in this respect are required.
The European Council welcomes the ongoing work within the Council and the Commission regarding protection of children.