2588th Council meeting
[Graphic in PDF & Word format]
Luxembourg, 8 June 2004
9782/04 (Presse 173)
2588th Council meeting
President Mr Michael McDOWELL, T.D.
APPLICATION OF THE MUTUAL RECOGNITION PRINCIPLE TO CONFISCATION ORDERS 6
TERRORISM - FOLLOW-UP TO THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECLARATION - Council conclusions 6
COMMUNICATION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TAMPERE 8
ADMISSION OF THIRD-COUNTRY RESEARCHERS 9
RETURN MANAGEMENT IN THE AREA OF MIGRATION - Council conclusions 10
EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND 15
COMMUNICATIONS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION 15
SCHENGEN VISA INFORMATION SYSTEM (VIS) 16
FOLLOW-UP TO THE DUBLIN CONFERENCE ON EU STRATEGY ON DRUGS - Council conclusions 16
OTHER BUSINESS 17
MIXED COMMITTEE 17
– Biometrics in EU citizens' passports 17
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
EU Travel Document - Council conclusions 18
Schengen - SISNET 19
Passports of uniform pattern 19
Public access to documents 19
Committee of the Regions 19
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
Mr Patrick DEWAEL Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior
Ms Laurette ONKELINX Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice
Mr Stanislav GROSS First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior
Mr Jakub CAMRDA Deputy Minister, Ministry of Justice
Ms Lene ESPERSEN Minister for Justice
Mr Bertel HAARDER Minister for Refugees, Immigration and Integration
Mr Otto SCHILY Federal Minister for the Interior
Ms Brigitte ZYPRIES Federal Minister for Justice
Mr Klaus BUSS Minister for the Interior, Schleswig-Holstein
Mr Margus LEIVO Minister for the Interior
Mr Anastasis PAPALIGOURAS Minister for Justice
Mr José Antonio ALONSO SUÁREZ Minister for the Interior
Mr Dominique PERBEN Keeper of the Seals, Minister for Justice
Mr Pat FOLAN Assistant Secretary in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Mr Rocco Antonio CANGELOSI Permanent Representative
Mr Doros THEODOROU Minister for Justice and Public Order
Mr Ēriks JĒKABSONS Minister for the Interior
Mr Virgilijus Vladislovas BULOVAS Minister for the Interior
Mr Vytautas MARKEVIČIUS Minister for Justice
Mr Luc FRIEDEN Minister for Justice, Minister for the Treasury and the Budget
Mr Tibor PÁL Political State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior
Mr Carmelo MIFSUD BONNICI Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs
Mr Johan REMKES Minister for the Interior and Kingdom Relations
Mr Piet Hein DONNER Minister for Justice
Ms Rita VERDONK Minister for Immigration and Integration
Mr Ernst STRASSER Federal Minister for the Interior
Mr Ryszard KALISZ Minister for the Interior and Administration
Mr Nuno MAGALHÃES State Secretary for the Interior
Mr João MOTA DE CAMPOS State Secretary to the Minister for Justice
Mr Rado BOHINC Minister for the Interior
Ms Zdenka CERAR Minister for Justice
Mr Vladimír PALKO Minister for the Interior
Mr Daniel LIPŠIC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice
Mr Kari RAJAMÄKI Minister for the Interior
Mr Johannes KOSKINEN Minister for Justice
Ms Barbro HOLMBERG Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Migration Policy
Mr Thomas BODSTRŐM Minister for Justice
Ms Caroline FLINT Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office
Mr António VITORINO Member
Mr Javier SOLANA MADARIAGA Secretary-General / High Representative
Mr Gijs DE VRIES EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator
The Council, subject to a number of parliamentary scrutiny reservations, reached a general approach on the entire draft Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to confiscation orders. The text will now be sent to the Working Party of Legal/Linguistic Experts with a view of finalisation and final adoption.
The purpose of this Framework Decision is to facilitate cooperation between Member States as regards the recognition and execution of orders to confiscate the proceeds of crime. Pursuant to the Framework Decision, a Member State will have to recognise and execute in its territory confiscation orders issued by judicial authorities of another Member State.
It should be noted that this Framework Decision is closely linked to the Framework Decision already adopted on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to orders freezing property or evidence. It is also linked to the draft Framework Decision on confiscation of crime-related proceeds, instrumentalities and property on which the JHA Council adopted a general approach in December 2002. For the purpose of making efficient instruments available to practitioners, it is very important to adopt the draft on confiscation orders. The draft is therefore high on the Presidency’s list of priorities in the JHA area.
The European Council Declaration on combating terrorism, adopted on 25 March 2004, provided that work on the Framework Decision on confiscation orders should be concluded by June 2004.
With a view to preparing the European Council of 17 and 18 June, the (JHA) Council held a first exchange of views on the follow-up to the European Council Declaration on terrorism of 25 March 2004 (7906/04).
The Secretary-General/High Representative Mr SOLANA presented the main elements of his proposal aiming at improving the EU's intelligence cooperation. He will present this proposal again at the next European Council meeting, on 17 and 18 June, for endorsement.
The Council examined a draft Presidency report on the implementation of the Declaration on combating terrorism and a draft Plan of Action on combating terrorism. Both texts will be presented at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 14 June and subsequently to the European Council.
In particular, the draft Plan of Action on combating terrorism brings together a comprehensive package of measures to be taken in the fight against terrorism and lists them on the basis of the seven strategic objectives indicated in the Annex to the Declaration, together with the relevant competent body.
Mr DE VRIES, the Counter Terrorism Coordinator, presented two papers on implementation and on the provisional findings of two peer evaluation exercises. The Council also took note of a report by Eurojust on the scope for further measures to improve its capacity to contribute to the fight against terrorism.
The Council also adopted the following conclusions:
" The Council :
1. Recalls that the Declaration on combating terrorism adopted by the European Council on 25 March 2004 called on :
- the Secretary General / High Representative to make proposals in relation to integrating, within the Council Secretariat, an intelligence capacity on all aspects of the terrorist threat;
- the Council to complete the adoption of a revised Plan of Action to Combat Terrorism in accordance with the updated strategic objectives agreed for that purpose;
- the Counter-Terrorism Co-Ordinator to coordinate, within the Council Secretariat, the work of the Council in combating terrorism;
- Member States to reinforce Europol's counter-terrorism capacities and reactivate the Counter-Terrorism Task Force;
- the Police Chiefs Task Force to review how its operational capacity could be reinforced and to focus on proactive intelligence; and
- Member States to ensure that the optimum and most effective use is made of Eurojust.
Draft Report / Action Plan
2. Notes with satisfaction the progress made in the preparation of the Report to the European Council on the implementation of the Declaration on combating terrorism and the associated EU Plan of Action.
Report of Secretary-General / High Representative
3. Takes note of the report prepared by the Secretary-General / High Representative regarding the integration, within the Council Secretariat, of an intelligence capacity on terrorism for submission to the European Council on 17 and 18 June.
4. Notes the recommendations it makes for this purpose which will be considered by the European Council.
Peer Evaluation Processes / Implementation of legislative measures
5. Takes note of the report from the Counter Terrorism Co-Ordinator containing provisional findings arising from work undertaken in connection with the peer evaluation processes underway in relation to national arrangements in the fight against terrorism and the exchange of information and intelligence and his discussion paper on the monitoring of the implementation of legislative instruments to fight terrorism.
6. Mandates the Article 36 Committee, and the relevant working parties, to take the report into account in completing the peer evaluation processes and with a view to bringing any necessary proposals to Council.
7. Requests the Article 36 Committee to examine the discussion paper on the implementation of legislative measures with a view to agreeing proposals to improve existing arrangements.
8. Welcomes the re-establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force and the proposals for reinforcing Europol' s counter-terrorism capacity in supporting Member States in their action against terrorism and in detecting and dismantling terrorist cells.
9. Notes that the Counter-Terrorism Task Force is being re-established within the existing structure of Europol.
10. Notes that the role and functions of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force will require to be reviewed in the light of other relevant developments.
11. Requests Member States to take all the necessary measures to support the work of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force consistent with the European Council' s call that the flow of intelligence to Europol in relation to all aspects of terrorism should be improved.
12. Requests Europol to keep the effectiveness of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force under review and to report to Council on the implementation of the new arrangements by mid-2005.
13. Welcomes the progress being made on the implementation of the Europol Information System.
Police Chiefs Task Force
14. Notes the report on the terrorist attacks prepared by the Police Chiefs Task Force.
15. Notes the outcome of the review undertaken by the Police Chiefs Task Force on how the operational capacity of the Task Force should be reinforced to focus on proactive intelligence.
16. Mandates the Article 36 Committee in consultation with the Police Chiefs Task Force to examine its proposals further, with a view to forwarding recommendations to Coreper / Council by December 2004 which will take account of procedural and institutional issues and of other developments.
17. Notes the report on the scope for further measures to improve its capacity to contribute to the fight against terrorism prepared by Eurojust in response to its request.
18. Mandates the Article 36 Committee and relevant parties to examine its proposals further with a view to bringing forward any necessary proposals or recommendations for consideration by the Council by December 2004."
The Council held a preliminary discussion on the results of the Tampere programme and future follow-up developments on the basis of a recently approved Commission communication.
The discussion focused on:
The incoming Netherlands Presidency announced that this would be one of its main priorities and would be discussed at the next JHA Council in July.
The Tampere programme for the establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice was launched by the European Council at Tampere in October 1999. It covers various areas such as: protecting EU citizens against crime, integration of third-country nationals, common policies on asylum and immigration, ensuring free movement and residence throughout the EU and ensuring that all EU citizens have the same access to justice throughout the EU.
The Council, pending the opinion from the European Parliament, reached a general approach on the proposal for a Council Recommendation aimed to facilitate the admission of third-country nationals to carry out scientific research in the European Community. The Recommendation is part of a package presented by the Commission which also includes a proposal for a Directive on a specific procedure for the admission of third-country nationals to carry out research.
The Recommendation is a step to strengthen the actions being undertaken to develop the European research area, in the framework of the strategic objective, set out for the EU by the Lisbon European Council in March 2000: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world.
The Recommendation calls on Member States to adopt a number of practical measures without delay, in view of the fact that the Directive will not come into operation until 2006, at the earliest, and that more immediate action will be necessary if the targets set by the Lisbon European Council are to be met.
The Recommendation identifies the following areas of action:
The Commission presented a statement on this Recommendation which would be included in the Council minutes.
The Council adopted conclusions on the elements for establishing preparatory actions for a financial instrument for return management in the area of migration. This financial instrument aims to provide support to the return of illegal immigrants in the European Union to countries of origin, former residence or transit.
The Conclusions constitute a set of guidelines for the Commission and are the basis for the establishment of a future instrument for return management.
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
(12) On the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, regard should be had to whether the measures proposed for adoption in the preparatory actions could be more effectively undertaken by the Member States rather than by the Community.
(13) The experience obtained from actions in the area of return, as envisaged under these conclusions, should be relied on when preparing legislation on the establishment of a future Financial Instrument on Return Management.
(14) The procedures and practices of the Member States in implementing measures in the area of return under these Conclusions should not be affected.
(15) The use of Community resources under these conclusions should remain within the limit of the financial perspectives of the Community.
The Council of the European Union, which calls upon the budgetary authority to provide appropriate funding, considers that preparatory actions for a financial instrument for return management in the area of migration should be established and implemented along the following lines:
Section I - Objectives
Section II –Complementarity
Section III – Elements for integrated return plans
6. Complementary Community support may be provided for the return of irregular migrants in transit countries to their country of origin or former residence, where they have entered illegally the territory of a Member State or where such persons attempt or have attempted to enter illegally the territory of a Member State.
7. In the case of forced return to the country of illegal entrants and residents to the country of origin, former residence or transit, financial support should be provided to cover the travel costs for returnees and escorts, in particular the costs for the means of transportation for joint removal operations.
8. In the case of voluntary return to the country of origin, former residence
or transit, the following measures could be considered:
(i) pre-return information, assistance and counselling,
(ii) travel costs,
(iii) transport of personal belongings.
9. To ensure the sustainability of returns Community support may also be established, where appropriate, for the following elements of integrated return plans:
(1) reception of readmitted persons in the country of origin, former
residence or transit;
(2) actions to ensure the durable reintegration of the person concerned in the country of origin or former residence.
In this respect, the following measures for reception assistance could be considered, as necessary:
(a) in cases of forced return:
(i) travel costs;
(ii) transportation to the final destination in the country of return.
(b) in cases of voluntary return:
(i) adequate temporary accommodation for the first days after arrival;
(ii) travel costs;
(iii) essential initial expenses after return;
(iv) transportation to the final destination in the country of return.
(v) training and employment assistance;
(vi) limited start-up support for economic activities;
(vii) post-return assistance and counselling.
Section IV – Drawing up integrated return plans
10. The Commission, in close cooperation with Member States, should draw up integrated return plans annually, in accordance with Council Regulation 1605/2002/EC, in particular Articles 48 and 49(2) thereof, and Commission Regulation 2342/2002, in particular Article 32(2) thereof.
The Council invites the Commission to take account of its orientations as regards the identification of target groups and/or specific measures to be undertaken.
11. The Commission should ensure, prior to drawing up the integrated return plans, that they are in accordance with the financial regulations; that their objectives and anticipated outcomes are indicated; and, in particular, that the following are specified:
(i) the grounds for the specific need for Community support for the designated target group of the return plan;
(ii) an assessment of the feasibility of returning persons of the target group in order to ensure that their return takes place in safety and dignity as well as on the situation in the country or region of return, including the reception and reintegration capacity;
(iii) the specific measures to be supported, the timetable of implementation of the measures, and the criteria for the evaluation and selection of projects.
(iv) the duration of the return plan; and
(v) the projected costs of the return plans.
Section V – Implementation of integrated return plans
12. The Commission should be responsible for drawing up a framework for the financial management of the integrated return plans in partnership with Member States.
13. To facilitate the implementation of the integrated return plans, the Commission should, where necessary, conclude bi- or multilateral arrangements with third countries and/or international organisations on the implementation of the return plans.
14. Partners eligible for financial support under these Conclusions should primarily include all the relevant government bodies, departments and agencies of the Member States as well as of the third countries involved, institutions, associations and regional and international organisations and agencies. Where appropriate, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or other non-state actors in both the public and private sectors may also apply for funding.
15. In respect of the selection of all projects for financial support, particular attention should be given to the efficiency and sustainability of the measure. Without prejudice to the specific needs of the target group, preference should be given to:
(i) projects which involve joint actions between two or more Member States.
(ii) projects, as defined in the respective return plan, which involve two or more specific elements as set out in paragraphs 5 through 9 of these Council Conclusions."
The Council reached political agreement on a Decision establishing a European Refugee Fund (ERF), for the period 2005 – 2010.
This Decision aims to support and encourage the efforts made by Member States in receiving and bearing the consequences of receiving refugees and displaced persons. The fund should be seen as an instrument of solidarity. It should also be noted that the current European Refugee Fund will come to an end by 31 December 2004.
The main characteristics of ERF II are:
The Decision to establish the European Refugee Fund, in September 2000, laid the foundation for collective action by the Community as regards the reception of asylum-seekers and people requiring international protection. It also helped to secure temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons.
Commissioner VITORINO briefed the Council on two recently approved Commission communications:
The Council took note of the presentations and held a preliminary exchange of views on both communications. They will be further examined by the Council preparatory bodies.
The Council adopted a Decision establishing the Visa Information System. It constitutes the required legal basis to allow for the inclusion in the general budget of the EU of the necessary appropriations for the development of VIS and the execution of that part of the budget. It will enable the Commission to prepare the technical development of the VIS (9559/1/04 REV 1).
The system is intended to enable authorised national authorities to enter and update visa data and to consult such data electronically.
The Presidency briefed the Council on the main elements discussed at the Dublin Conference on the "EU Strategy on Drugs - The Way Forward".
The following major themes were discussed at the Conference:
The aim of the Conference was to provide a first opportunity for Member States to exchange views on the future EU Drug Strategy 2005-2012. It should be noted that the current EU drug strategy is scheduled to end in 2004.
The Council approved the following conclusions:
1. Welcomes the report of the Presidency on the main elements discussed at the Dublin Conference EU Strategy on Drugs/The Way Forward on 10 and 11 May 2004.
2. Takes note of the fact that the purpose of the Conference was to provide a first opportunity for an exchange of views on the European Drugs Strategy to be adopted for 2005 – 2012.
3. Looks forward to the Commission's final evaluation of the 2000–2004 Drugs Strategy.
4. Requests the relevant parties to undertake the necessary work on the preparation of the new strategy with a view to its adoption no later than December 2004."
In accordance with Article 24 of the Treaty on European Union, new Member States made constitutional declarations with regards to three agreements that were signed last year on behalf of the European Union: EU-US Agreements of 25 June 2003 on extradition and mutual assistance and the EU-Norway/Iceland Agreement of 19 December 2003 on mutual assistance.
The Mixed Committee gave political guidance on standards for security features and biometrics in EU citizens' passports.
The Committee broadly agreed that the EU citizens' passports should contain a first mandatory biometric identifier, a facial image, and an optional one, in principle fingerprints.
Over lunch, Ministers addressed the following questions: the appointment of the Director of Europol, the situation regarding the creation of the European Borders Agency, visa reciprocity and a joint initiative by some Member States to improve police cooperation.
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
The Council approved the Activity Report of the Eurojust Joint Supervisory Body for the year 2003 (8182/04).
The Council adopted the following conclusions on the re-examination of the legal basis, format and use of the EU Travel Document (9741/04):
"The Council notes that:
- On 30 November 1994 the Council adopted a Recommendation concerning the adoption of a standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals.
- In 2004, on initiative of the Irish Presidency, the competent Council bodies addressed the question of the use of the EU Travel Document by Member States. This issue was already examined in 2001 under the Belgian Presidency, which launched an initiative on a good practice guide on obtaining laissez passers for the purposes of repatriation and in 2003 under the Hellenic Presidency, on whose initiative was approved the Manual on best practice on the acquisition of travel documents.
On the basis of the analysis carried out by its competent bodies the Council:
The Council approved the Europol Work Programme 2005 (9956/04 and 9546/04) and Europol Annual Report 2003 (9956/04 and 8858/04).
The Council approved the amending budget for SISNET for the year 2004 (9707/04).
The Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, adopted a Resolution concerning the introduction of a passport of uniform pattern (10038/1/04).
The Council adopted the reply to the letter sent to the Council by Mr P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, European Ombudsman, referring to the complaint made by Mr Daniel FRÖHLICH, with the Danish, Dutch, Finnish and Swedish delegations voting against (9161/04) ;
The Council adopted the reply to the confirmatory application made by Mr Steve PEERS (1/04), with the Danish, French, Portuguese, Finnish and Swedish delegations voting against (9439/04).
The Council decided to appoint:
(a) the following persons as members of the Committee of the Regions:
(b) the following person as an alternate member of the Committee of the Regions:
for the remainder of their term of office, which ends on 25 January 2006 (9751/04, 9868/04 and 9925/04).
 OJ C 142, 14.6.2002, p. 23.
 OJ L 252, 6.10.2000, p.12.
 OJ L 161, 19.6.2002, p. 11.
 OJ L 80, 18.3.2004, p. 1.