Monday

22nd Jan 2018

EU-six go it alone against smuggling and terrorists

EU interior ministers from the six biggest EU countries have agreed to step up coordination of their security services to enhance the integration of immigrants into the EU as well as to fight terrorism.

Interior ministers from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, UK and Poland, or the G6 group, gathered in Heiligenddamm in Germany on Thursday (23 March) to discuss topics related to terrorism, illegal immigration and integration as well as drug trafficking and human smuggling.

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  • G6 countries have agreed to create a European anti-terrorist police task force (Photo: EUobserver)

At the meeting, ministers gave the green light to forming common investigation teams to clamp down on people smuggling at the EU's borders, with Spain in particular urging common efforts to put an end to the high number of illegal immigrants coming from Africa to Europe.

In November and December, between 1,200 and 1,700 Africans, mostly from Sub-Saharan countries, were drowned trying to reach the Canary Islands in barely seaworthy boats, Spanish media reported.

Another Spanish proposal, to create a rapid reaction European anti-terrorist police force was also approved by the other G6 members.

When set up, EU joint anti-terror police and forensic teams could be dispatched within hours to locations in EU member states where a terrorist attack has occurred.

Ministers also agreed to better information-sharing on persons expelled from any of the G6 states on grounds of "activities to foment hatred between races and religions".

The wording refers explicitly to certain "preachers of hate"- Imams that have been expelled after preaching hatred against Westeners and Jews in Mosques across Europe.

Immigrants to pledge Western values

Proposed by French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, ministers also agreed to look into compulsory integration exams for foreigners.

Mr Sarkozy had also suggested that EU member states demand possible immigrants to sign a "contract" that requires that they learn the language of their adopted country and accept its social norms – or risk being expelled.

"We agree that experts from our countries must examine the option of presenting an integration contract to new immigrants," German interior minister Wolfgang Schauble told reporters after the meeting in Austria, AFP reports.

British interior secretary Charles Clarke said according to the Financial Times that "the values of our societies - democracy, respect for other faiths, free speech, the rule of law, free media and so on - are values which we would expect everybody wanting to settle in these countries to respect."

Several European countries have already introduced language tests for immigrants.

The Netherlands earlier this month went a step further, introducing new entry laws that require potential immigrants to take language and culture exams in order to emigrate to the country.

To prepare immigrants for Dutch liberal society, possible newcomers would also have to watch a film picturing a sunbathing topless woman, gay men kissing and the immigrant "ghettos" that may await immigrants coming into the country.

US slams Europe on Muslim integration

The lagging integration of Muslim minorities in Europe constitutes a security risk for the US, the US state department’s undersecretary for European affairs Daniel Fried has said.

Rights NGOs face fresh threats in EU

While ongoing crackdowns in Poland and Hungary have put the spotlight on rights groups, NGOs are now under new political and financial pressure across the EU, the Fundamental Rights Agency said.

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