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EU Boosts Its Security Efforts

In Dresden, the interior ministers agreed to look into the possibility of partnership agreements between member states and third countries regarding migration and development, especially by improving conditions for those countries to sign refugee readmission treaties. They said they will also examine how best to take advantage of the positive effects of circular and temporary migration between the EU and third countries.
by Stefan Nicola
UPI Germany Correspondent
Berlin (UPI) Jan 17, 2007
The European Union's interior and justice ministers have drafted several measures to improve border security and the fight against terrorism and organized crime. Meeting in Dresden from Sunday until Tuesday, the justice and interior ministers vowed to expand their law enforcement cooperation, backing efforts to give all EU countries access to national databases containing fingerprints, DNA samples and license plate information.

Such an agreement has already been struck by Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but the ministers said it should be expanded to include all EU member states.

A similar data-sharing plan could be signed between the EU and the United States in a bid to improve the joint fight against terrorism, said German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who chaired the Dresden meeting.

"If we are talking about guaranteeing security, fighting terrorism and so on, we wish to cooperate closely with our American partners," he said.

The agreement is part of Germany's initiative called "e-justice" that seeks to more effectively share information about crimes across the EU's internal borders, and to investigate how police in Europe can make better use of information technology to stop such crimes.

"In a European area of freedom, security and justice with porous borders, information technology-based support of the justice sector must not end at the internal borders," Brigitte Zypries, Germany's justice minister, said Tuesday. "It is time now to establish the basis for using e-justice at the European level -- for the benefit of citizens seeking justice and of enterprises as well as in the interest of improved cooperation among judicial organs in Europe."

Providing comprehensive electronic access to the justice sector throughout Europe is an ambitious project, Zypries admitted, mainly because of the many different languages in Europe, the different legal systems in the individual countries, and questions of security and data protection.

The German EU Presidency will hold a conference on e-justice at the end of May in the northern German city of Bremen, and Berlin agreed with Portugal and Slovenia, which take on the EU presidencies after Germany, will continue to work on the program.

Another issue that has strained Europe is the increased immigration from the EU's eastern and southern borders.

Germany, as holder of the current EU presidency, has also tabled a number of proposals to improve European border security.

In Dresden, the interior ministers agreed to look into the possibility of partnership agreements between member states and third countries regarding migration and development, especially by improving conditions for those countries to sign refugee readmission treaties. They said they will also examine how best to take advantage of the positive effects of circular and temporary migration between the EU and third countries.

The ministers reaffirmed that protecting the common external borders and combating illegal migration remained their highest priority.

"Due to the continuing pressure of immigration to Europe, migration policy remains a high priority, at both the European and the national level," Schaeuble said.

The German minister said the body's new border protection agency "Frontex" needed to receive further support from member states, a view shared by European Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini.

"Frontex is going to write to member states to ask for their contribution," Frattini said according to the EU Observer. "We need helicopters, boats and planes."

Without the help of member states, he added, "it will be very difficult to avoid the new streams of immigrants in April, May and June."

Europe's southern borders were heavily strained last year, when an estimated 30,000 sub-Saharan migrants arrived at the shores of Spain's Canary Islands, and a similar wave of migrants is expected for 2007. Frontex, not capable to handle last summer's migrant stream as it was poorly equipped, desperately needs additional means to be prepared this year, observers say.

Source: United Press International

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Abe Says Assertive Japan No Threat To Neighbours
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 16, 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday other nations had nothing to fear from Japan's new "assertive diplomacy", after his return from an ice-breaking summit with China and South Korea. Japan would actively engage with its partners and allies to maintain international security, he said, playing down concerns in the region about the creation of the country's first full-fledged defence ministry since World War II.







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