The Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers began in Dublin Castle this morning. EU Ministers for Home Affairs and Migration discussed topics relating to Security, Immigration and Asylum through a prism focusing on linkages to the Growth agenda. Ministers also had the benefit of a presentation from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – Mr Antonio Guterres which detailed the terrible circumstances of refugees resulting from the Syrian crisis.
At the first day of the Justice and Home Affairs Informal, Ministers considered actions to counter terrorism, made more timely by the tragic events unfolding in Algeria. The Bulgarian Minister for Home Affairs also gave a presentation on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Burgas in 2012. Ministers pledged to continue to take strong action to counter terrorism and organised crime.
In relation to Internal Security and Growth, it was stressed by Ministers at the meeting that it is essential for a robust, thriving economy that citizens of and visitors to the EU feel safe and secure from terrorist attacks. Ministers shared the view that a public perception of ineffective law enforcement responses to terrorist attacks or organised crime is likely to adversely affect economic recovery and growth.
Ministers from across Europe also focussed their discussions on another topic directly linked to Ireland’s overall Presidency Priorities, Migration for Growth. EU Ministers considered how controlled migration could lead to growth in the European economy by ensuring that non-EU citizens with certain skill sets have the opportunity to migrate to countries in the EU that can benefit from their expertise.
The agenda included a presentation on the Greek National Action Plan on Asylum Reform and Migration Management and UN High Commissioner for Refugees updated Ministers on the ever evolving situation in Syria.
The meeting, which is the first Informal meeting of the Irish Presidency, was chaired by Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD. The Minister commented,
“I am very satisfied with what we have achieved during the first day of the Informal Council meeting. There was open and productive debate on a range of topics in the Home Affairs area and Ministers were updated on the regrettable humanitarian crisis that is evolving in Syria”.
In relation to the agenda items concerned with growth, Minister Shatter remarked, "Economic growth and boosting employment opportunities are of critical importance to all European citizens. The discussions at this Justice and Home Affairs meeting reflect this most important issue. I, along with my Ministerial colleagues, will continue working to ensure that we make progress in this area".
“I believe that there would be a great advantage to having a "European Missing Persons Day” which would provide an opportunity to address and highlight the question of missing persons across national and EU lines.”
At the meeting Minister Shatter announced Ireland’s intention to hold an annual national missing person’s day in December each year to raise awareness of open missing persons’ cases and proposed cooperation between EU Member States in the holding of a European-wide Missing Persons Day. Minister Shatter said,
“I believe that there would be a great advantage to having a "European Missing Persons Day” which would provide an opportunity to address and highlight the question of missing persons across national and EU lines.” The Minister was delighted with the positive reaction to the proposal and looks forward to further discussions during the course of the Presidency.
In relation to the Informal meeting itself, the Minister said, “The Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers is a very useful tool in helping to ensure an area of Freedom, Security and Justice for all EU citizens. There continues to be great enthusiasm and commitment from all Member States to work together on issues of concern at both national and international level, and I am sure that this enthusiasm will remain for the duration of Ireland’s Presidency and beyond”
Photographs and videos from today's event are available in the image gallery and video gallery.