News/Europe: EU leaders meet to fight crime, illegal migration

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Subject: News/Europe: EU leaders meet to fight crime, illegal migration
From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 09:27:42 EDT

So how do people think that "fotress Europe" will affect vicitms of
trafficking? Will it be easier or harder to trafficking within Europe?
What about into Europe?



EU leaders meet to fight crime, illegal migration
By Elina Talvitie

HELSINKI, Oct 13 (Reuters) - European Union leaders gather in the Finnish
city of Tampere on Friday for a two-day summit aimed at kick-starting a
common asylum and immigration policy and beefing up law and order in the bloc.

"It (Tampere) is about citizens wanting cooperation to fight cross-border
crime and the need to have more uniform procedures on immigration and on
refugees' status," Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen said last week.

The main challenge for Finland, which holds the rotating six-month EU
presidency until the end of the year, will be to steer the 14 other member
countries into agreeing guidelines for a common asylum and immigration policy.

The summit has been called because the EU's Amsterdam Treaty requires
asylum, immigration and anti-crime measures to be set by 2004 to accompany
citizens' right to move freely in the bloc.

Leaders also hope tackling immigration and crime will revive the EU's
relevance in the eyes of its nationals, whose sluggish turnout in June's
European Parliament elections was partly blamed on the union's remoteness
>from their daily lives.


Governments want to calm what they see as mounting popular fears about
illegal immigration, as reflected in the far right's recent electoral
success in Austria. Germany and France have called for migration into the
EU to be curbed.

Humanitarian groups say the EU approach may end up as a xenophobic
exclusion of genuine asylum-seekers and a denial of its need to take in
foreigners to bolster an ageing workforce.

EU Commission President Romano Prodi has also said he hopes the outcome of
the Tampere summit will not be seen as repressive, but Finland insists the
key concern is crime.

"It is interesting how this need to fight crime and illegal immigration has
become a question of restrictions, forgetting that European citizens want
security improved," Lipponen said.

"We need to create a common asylum area with common minimum standards and
procedures to ensure asylum seekers get uniform treatment: a simple, quick
procedure respecting (international) conventions and human rights," he said.

Topics on the Tampere agenda include better external border controls and
weeding out the use of forged documents by some of the 300,000 or so people
seeking asylum in the EU every year.

Lipponen said the tone would not just be negative, as the EU would also
consider using development aid and foreign policy to stop people leaving
their home countries at all.

But pressure groups say this could leave victims of human rights abuses
without protection in states like Afghanistan and Iraq, which the EU has
named as so-called zones of migration.

The Tampere summit will also discuss how to coordinate responses to sudden
influxes of people in need of temporary protection, such as tens of
thousands of refugees seeking safety in the EU during the Kosovo crisis.

Officials say a separate refugee fund or formal quotas are likely to be
rejected in favour of a flexible voluntary system.

Finland also proposes extending the social and political rights of up to 15
million long-term legal aliens in the EU, to include for example the right
to vote in municipal elections.


The summit agenda includes fighting international organised crime and
improving access to justice in cross-border marriages, business
transactions and travel.

Although some national laws and procedures may be brought in line with each
other, states like Britain emphasise mutual recognition, by which decisions
made in one country could be easily applied in others.

In light of the drawn-out legal battle in Britain over whether former
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet could be sent to Spain to face torture
charges, Madrid and London want the summit to ease extradition proceedings
between EU members.

On organised crime, Finland says the most important thing is to fight money
laundering, which makes cross-border crime profitable, distorts the
internal market and affects the credibility of financial institutions.

The summit is also expected to tighten cooperation between European
prosecutors and police forces.

Melanie Orhant

STOP-TRAFFIC is a facilitated, international electronic mailing list
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