Magazine article European Social Policy

Home Affairs Council : Eu Cautions Would-Be Candidate Balkan States

Magazine article European Social Policy

Home Affairs Council : Eu Cautions Would-Be Candidate Balkan States

Article excerpt

Cautioning the Balkan states that hope to join the EU some day, the 27 home affairs ministers, meeting on 25 October in Luxembourg, focused more on the need for these countries to improve protection of their Roma minority than on abuse of their asylum system.

"Everyone has to fulfil certain duties before joining the European Union," said Swedish Minister Tobias Billstrom, upon his arrival in Luxembourg. "One of these duties is to improve the treatment of minorities."

The phenomenon of asylum applications submitted by Roma from the Balkan states, who since 2008-2009 no longer have to apply for tourist visas (for stays of less than three months) to enter the EU, is primarily affecting six countries (Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg, Belgium and France). Their six home affairs ministers have already written to Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and the Cyprus EU Council Presidency. They call for adoption, "by the end of the year," of a "safeguard clause on visa liberalisation permitting its suspension in clear-cut cases of abuse". This text, which would amend Regulation 539/2001 listing the countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa and those whose nationals are exempt, was presented in May 2011. The Council adopted it last December, but the European Parliament is demanding an automatic link between the visa waiver in the EU and in other countries, like the United States, which the 27 find irrelevant.

"Its adoption would make it possible to encourage the third countries concerned to boost their efforts and maintain them over the longer term," say the six signatory ministers. …

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