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The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, made the following statement in Berlin at the end of his meeting with Germany’s Federal Minister of Interior, Thomas de Maizière:
I am very pleased to be here in Berlin, here in Germany, for the very first time in my new capacity as Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. Moreover, I am particularly pleased to the hosted by a good friend, Thomas de Maizière.
The Minister and I had a very fruitful discussion. Our discussion focused primarily on the serious threats posed by foreign fighters and on current migration challenges
Regarding foreign fighters, we agreed that information gathered by airline carriers is essential for the work of law enforcement authorities. That is why we need a European Union Passenger Name Record system. This system will help to track foreign fighters but also other criminals. We will work together and with the Ministers of other EU Member States as well as with Members of the European Parliament in order to agree on common EU legislation.
With the Member States, we will also continue to work together to improve the checks of travel documents and persons and we will ensure the proper implementation of the Schengen Information System to enable swift information exchange on foreign fighters without putting into question the free movement of EU citizens
The Radicalisation Awareness Network has proved to be a valuable tool for exchanging information in order to prevent Europeans – often, young men or women – from becoming radicalised and joining terrorist groups. In this context, and in light of the fact that terrorist groups use the Internet to recruit Europeans, I intend to work closely with leading Internet companies to counter online radicalisation.
Addressing migration is a top priority. The Commission is committed to improving the ways to address the increase of migratory and asylum flows and to prevent the death of migrants in the Mediterranean. We also have to address the migration challenges together with the countries of origin and transit.
With Minister De Maiziere, I participated last week in important meetings in Rome, where we discussed with many African Ministers how to improve our cooperation. There, we expanded the work of the ‘Rabat Process’ and we also launched the ‘Khartoum Process’ with countries along the East African migratory route. We are also working on a number of Regional Development Protection Programmes to support States in North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
On border protection, the participation of 21 Member States, including Germany, in the Triton Joint Operation of Frontex, in the central Mediterranean, is a welcome development.
Full and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System is also a key priority for the European Commission. For the system to succeed, it is essential that all Member States fulfil their legal obligations. Responsibility and solidarity go hand in hand.
Regarding the resettlement of refugees during emergencies, it is crucial that we improve our coordination. I want to take this opportunity to recognise the important efforts of Germany in resettling people in need; especially Syrians. These people clearly need protection.
Responsibility sharing in the EU is an issue that must be discussed seriously. The current situation – countries that receive the most asylum requests, are also those who resettle most refugees – is simply not sustainable.
There is also a clear need to promote a new European policy on legal migration. Europe must attract the right skills and talent.
The Blue Card, which considered as a success in Germany, needs to be improved at the EU level. In 2013 Germany issued over 11,000 Blue Cards, which accounted for 90% of all Blue Cards issued in the European Union. So we need to do more on an EU-wide scale.
Therefore, taking into account the German experience, I look forward to working with the German government in developing together a new European policy on legal migration and on all other issues of common concern.
Thank you for your attention.