Immigration : Eu Invites Spain to Use Funds to Stop Illegal Immigrants

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'We are going to call an urgent meeting of European countries bordering the Mediterranean' to seek agreement on maritime border controls to halt illegal immigration from Africa, Spain's First Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said during a visit to Helsinki on 29 August. The countries to be invited, in addition to Spain, are France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Slovenia. The Finnish Presidency of the EU and the European Commission will also attend. 'Immigrants who illegally enter Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Portugal, they enter the EU. All these countries form the southern EU border,' the Minister said. The date and location of the meeting have not yet been decided but the Spanish governmenthopes it can be held as early as next week, she added.

Following her visit to Finland where she met with President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen,,aMs de la Vega was in Brussels to call for greater EU involvement in fighting illegal immigration. On 30 August, she met Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The Commission expressed willingness to help Spain deal with the wave of illegal immigrants. Mr Frattini invited the Spanish authorities to make all the use they can of the potential funds available.

He said that 'the Commission had decided today to establish, at the highest possible level, a Commissioners' Group on Migration Issues, under the coordination of Vice President Franco Frattini, bringing together all policy areas implicated including development and external relations. …