EU interior ministers meet to discuss illegal immigration
22 March 2006, HEILIGENDAMM, GERMANY - Europe needs to work together to deal with the growing problem of illegal immigrants, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Alonso Suarez said on Wednesday.
22 March 2006
HEILIGENDAMM, GERMANY - Europe needs to work together to deal with the growing problem of illegal immigrants, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Alonso Suarez said on Wednesday.
"It is a problem that affects the entire European Union," he said at the start of a two-day informal meeting of interior ministers from the six biggest EU nations.
The minister referred to an incident last week when 25 Africans drowned when a boat carrying illegal immigrants to the Canary Islands sank off the coast of Mauritania.
A report by the Spanish secret service said between 1,200 and 1,700 Africans had drowned trying to reach the Canaries in November and December. EU officials say thousands more are waiting in Mauritania to make the trip.
Alonso said informal meetings like the one in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm were a useful way to find a solution to the problem.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was expected to propose expanding cooperation among the various national bodies dealing with illegal immigration.
Schaeuble's proposal includes giving the European border security agency Frontex powers to lead joint operations on the EU's external borders, organise exchanges between the various border security forces and compile analyses of the situation in crisis regions.
Media reports say more than 100,000 illegals have managed to enter Spain from Africa since 1999.
Italy is also faced with an influx of African immigrants who make their way by sea via Libya.
Ministers from France, Italy, Britain and Poland are also attending the conference, which will also be discussing integration and ways to combat the drug trade, international terrorism and organized crime.
Subject: German news