EU Home Affairs Ministers Focus on Future of External Borders Management and Return Policy


2015 10 08


Today Minister of the Interior Saulius Skvernelis participates at the European Union (EU) Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg. In response to the refugee crisis in Europe, home affairs ministers of the member states will discuss on the future of the EU external borders management and return policy and implementation of the Council’s decision on relocation of 40 000 persons from Italy and Greece.

 “Schengen area without internal borders and safe fast crossing its external borders is one of the most prominent achievements of the European Union which should be preserved. The internal European borders will be safe and open to the extent how safe its external borders will be,” – presenting the Lithuanian position during the discussions on the future of the EU external borders management Minister S. Skvernelis notes. Lithuania upholds the integrated EU external borders management and supports review of this conception according to the newest challenges.

According to the Minister of the Interior, seeking both modernization of the EU external borders management and effective implementation of the return policy, it is necessary to reinforce capacities of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (FRONTEX) and to use to full extent potential of current European IT systems, also developing them.

“We are ready for discussions on review and strengthening FRONTEX’s mandate, particularly in the area of return policy implementation. The role of FRONTEX is extremely important, expert and other functions of this agency should be used to maximum. Responding to the FRONTEX invitations, we sent our officers to the operations coordinated by FRONTEX in Greece, Italy and Hungary and are ready to do it again”, – S. Skvernelis says.  

In Luxembourg, ministers of member states will discuss the EU Action Plan on Return prepared by the European Commission. It defines about 40 immediate and mid-term measures enhancing voluntary return, improving information sharing, coordinating return operations and creating an integrated system of return management.

“We have to agree that EU return policy is not effective. Under current migration crisis conditions, it should be more ambitious, effective and more evident. We should ensure appropriate application of the EU instructions in the area of return, more active cooperation among member states,” – Minister S. Skvernelis says.

During the Council meeting, the Presidency also will brief the ministers on further progress of discussions on the proposal on permanent mechanism of refugee relocation. Lithuania does not support this mechanism. “We think that a standard mechanism will not suit all possible future scenarios. We also do not agree with the proposal grant all powers to start and control of relocation mechanism to the Commission. We suggest not to be in a hurry and first of all to evaluate the effectiveness of immediate temporary relocation. Besides, such permanent mechanism of relocation might become a pull factor for undesirable migrants,” – Minister S. Skvernelis underlines. 

Among the other issues, the agenda of Luxembourg Council meeting provides for discussions on EU visa policy, Commission’s proposals on a common list of safe countries of origin, EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) system, also – on the fight against terrorism, international organized and serious crime.