Statewatch article: RefNo# 1667
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council
Statewatch bulletin, vol 5 no 5
The main decisions taken at the meeting of Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Brussels on 25-26 September were: 1) adoption on the common visa list (see feature) and 2) a new resolution on refugees (below).


The Council agreed a resolution on burden-sharing in relation to the reception and temporary protection of displaced persons. The document reaffirms the policy developed in relation to the former Yugoslavia of granting temporary admission to a very restricted range of people, preferring the discredited idea of "safe areas" in the country concerned where possible. Those qualifying for "temporary protection" in the EU will be former prisoners of war, victims of sexual aggression, the very ill and seriously wounded and others who cannot get adequate protection or treatment at home, and those who have come directly from a war zone who are unable to resettle themselves inside the frontiers of their country because of the conflict or human rights violations.

The resolution, adopted after persistent lobbying by Germany for more than a year, says that there should be "an equal share of the costs relating to temporary admission and stay of displaced persons" which should take into account two factors. First, the military or "humanitarian" contribution of an EU state to the "prevention or resolution of the crisis". Second, the "capacity for admission" of displaced persons to a member state. In short, a EU state which contributes significant military forces to a crisis will have to take less refugees.

Another report on burden-sharing, from the German, Netherlands and Austrian delegations, made proposals for reporting projected a "crisis", for quarterly reports from each member state, and for "emergency procedures". It was agreed that the report should be further considered by the K4 Committee.

Other decisions

The Council also discussed the following:

1) the draft Convention on matrimonial matters: this extends the Brussels Convention and is expected to be ready for Ministerial signature in November. For the Presidency the Spanish Minster of Justice and Interior, Mr Juan Alberto Belloch, said that there was agreement in principle with outstanding questions concerning the custody of minors and agreeing that a decision in a court in one EU state would be binding on others;

2) draft Convention on insolvency proceedings: this too was agreed in principle and Ministerial signature is expected in November. The Convention harmonises legal proceedings between the EU states on the appointment of liquidators, rights for creditors and the courts who will deal with appeals in each state. In this Convention the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has jurisdiction (Article 43) - the UK's traditional objection to the ECJ's involvement in areas of inter-governmental cooperation under the "third pillar" does not ex
tend to legal instruments relating to the "first pillar" (economic issues);

3) Europol: the Council had a preliminary discussion on a series of regulations which have to be agreed as a result of signing the Europol Convention on 26 July. These were the draft regulations for the Management Board; for the status of Europol staff; the privileges and immunities of staff directly employed by Europol; the position of liaison officers; rules on the data files to be held by Europol; regulations on the protection of confidentiality and on finance. The Council hopes to agree an accord at its next meeting in November on the deferred decision over the role of the European Court of Justice under the Europol Convention (see Statewatch, vol 5 no 4).

4) Refugees: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was forced to issue an urgent plea for help in finding places for tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The letter to the Spanish Minister of Justice and the Interior, in his capacity as chair of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council, complained that quotas<

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