The European Council is making efforts for an “overall upgrading of EU instruments and the coordination of Member States” towards the gradual formulation of a “common policy” on migration, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters in Thessaloniki.
The President of the European Council was speaking at a joint press conference with European Commission President Romano Prodi and the President of the Council of Ministers, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou (19/6).
Simitis said proposals were being examined for the development of a technologically advanced information system for visas and the creation of new structures for the protection of the EU’s external borders, as well as the harmonisation of policies on the readmission of illegal immigrants.
The Greek premier said that preparatory legislative work should continue on procedures for granting asylum and importance attached to the issue of cooperation with third countries in combating illegal immigration.
Prodi referred to the Commission proposal for financing (totalling 140 million euro for the period 2004-2006) the protection of the Union’s external borders and cooperation with third countries (250 million euro).
Commenting on the discussion of the 25 European leaders during the dinner on Thursday evening, Simitis said the EU would participate in the UN debate on Iraq. On the Middle East problem, he said “double pressure” should be exerted to ensure a positive outcome of negotiations between the Palestinian prime minister and Hamas and the peace process subsequently implemented.
Replying to questions, Simitis observed that the British proposals on the granting of asylum “have been amended” and remained on the table of discussion.
On the issue of Bank of France governor Jean-Claude Trichet being the successor to Wim Duisenberg as President of the European Central Bank, Simitis said the matter must first be decided at the Eurogroup level, before being discussed by the European Parliament and raised at the European Council in October.
Lastly, regarding the Common Agricultural Policy, Simitis clarified that an issue with “serious technical parameters” must first be thoroughly examined by the Council of Ministers and cannot be discussed off agenda by the European Council.