France pushes for 'effective' EU action on illegal immigration

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French Interior Minster Gerard Collomb said Thursday he will push for "more effective and better harmonised" EU procedures for expelling illegal immigrants, as he gathered with European counterparts in Vienna.

Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl is hosting the ministers for a security and migration-themed meeting on Thursday and Friday as part of his country's rotating presidency of the EU.

Collomb said in a statement the meeting's priority should be "to collectively strengthen our cooperation with states which migrants depart from and travel through, in order to contain illegal migration flows".

In this regard, he would focus on "countries in the Maghreb, to end sea journeys by migrants that put their lives at risk", he added.

At the Vienna meeting, ministers are expected to discuss the idea of migrant screening centres, endorsed by EU leaders at a summit in June.

Officials at such centres would try to distinguish which migrants had legitimate asylum claims.

Over the summer, several aid vessels arrived at European ports where migrants were taken into closed centres conceived along similar lines.

However, three months after leaders endorsed the idea of erecting such centres in North Africa, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos admitted to Austrian Die Presse newspaper that "no country in that part of the Mediterranean has agreed to host such a platform".

"At the moment it's practically impossible," he said.

Opening the meeting, Kickl said the Austrian government is pursuing bilateral talks over its own idea of "return centres" outside the EU for asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected but cannot be deported to their country of origin.

Kickl, from the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), did not want to give further details so as not to jeopardise ongoing discussions.

The names of several Balkan countries have been mentioned in the Austrian press as possible hosts for such centres but officials from those states have consistently rejected the idea.

Regarding other measures to combat illegal migration, Collomb said France would support plans to beef up the EU's border agency, Frontex, with an additional 10,000 guards.

He also reiterated Paris's willingness to look at reform of the EU's Dublin regulations -- which stipulate that asylum seekers' applications should be processed in the state where they were first registered -- in order to "reduce secondary migration flows within the EU".


© 2018 AFP

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