Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2012-05-09-Speech-3-115-000"

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"Mr President, I would like to thank Parliament for the opportunity to participate in this debate and to respond to some of the issues arising out of the recent visit by a delegation from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to Sicily and Lampedusa. We all know the challenges that some Member States are facing when it comes to large and mixed migration flows to the EU. A number of these issues are more for the Commission to address. Furthermore, some of your questions should be answered by Italy as a Member State herself. I will therefore focus my comments on those issues which fall specifically within the remit of the Council. I will particularly try to clarify how the Council has sought to respond to the migratory pressures which Italy, among others, has faced recently. The situation in the southern Mediterranean has been an important item for the Justice and Home Affairs Council, in particular, following the Arab Spring. In that respect, the Council last year adopted conclusions on the management of migration from the southern neighbourhood, as well as on borders, migration and asylum. These conclusions underlined the need for genuine and concrete solidarity towards those Member States most directly affected, as well as for a comprehensive response to the underlying causes. Therefore, and building upon the work of the former Polish Presidency, the Council has discussed ways of better managing asylum and migration within Member States, in particular, by preventing irregular migration and through cooperation with third countries. As part of this work, the Council agreed in March this year on a set of conclusions for concrete and practical ways to ensure solidarity towards Member States facing particular pressures on their asylum systems, including through mixed migration flows. They highlight, for example, the importance of responsibility and mutual trust, preventive cooperation, the need for solidarity in emergency situations, strengthened cooperation between EASO and Frontex, financial solidarity and strengthening cooperation with key countries of transit, origin and first countries of asylum. On 26 April 2012, the Council agreed on an EU action on migratory pressures as a strategic response containing an extensive list of actions in six priority areas. The action plan aims to prevent and control the pressures arising from illegal migration as well as abuse of legal migration channels. It combines and develops common EU action points and tools to prevent irregular immigration. In addition to these measures, Member States have been encouraged to support the activities of Frontex in the region. This support includes a joint operation, EPN-Hermes, in the Mediterranean Sea, intended to assist Italy to address the increase in immigrants from North Africa trying to reach Lampedusa and Sicily. Frontex has also assisted Italy in the area of border surveillance and search and rescue operations, screening of intercepted persons, debriefing activities and reaction capacity. According to data provided by Frontex, approximately 51 000 people were detected during 2011 in or near Lampedusa or in the surrounding area of Sicily. Most of them were Tunisians and sub-Saharan nationals. Preventing such tragedies has to be a top priority. Support for Italy has also been provided through funds made available under the ‘Solidarity and management of migration flows’ general programme. We are also working on long-term solutions for those in need of international protection in the countries of the southern neighbourhood, such as resettlement opportunities and humanitarian assistance to countries in the region having to deal with people displaced because of the Libyan conflict. Hopefully, this will help relieve some of the pressures on Italy. The Council is expected to adopt a set of conclusions soon concerning the EU approach to migration and mobility, including on EU cooperation with third countries regarding migration. Of course, we are also working to put in place a strengthened legal framework which will enable the Union and Member States to provide better responses to situations of this kind. The establishment of the Common European Asylum System is an important part of this and the Danish Presidency looks forward to continuing to work with Parliament and the Committee on Civil Liberties and the Commission in this area. For the Council, it is crucial that Member States fulfil their obligations both in EU legislation and in international treaties, and that will be, and will continue to be, the position of the Danish Presidency."@en1

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