Written Answers. - General Affairs Council Meeting.

Willie Penrose

Question:

12 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on 17 June 2002. [14821/02]

Eamon Ryan

Question:

13 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on 17 June 2002, in particular in relation to the proposal to impose economic sanctions on non-EU countries that fail to co-operate in repatriating illegal immigrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14807/02]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together.

With regard to the meeting of the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 17 June 2002 I refer the Deputy to the reply already given to priority question No. 4.

The General Affairs Council examined a number of issues in advance of the Seville European Council, including a package of measures to tackle illegal immigration. A comprehensive debate on immigration policy took place, focused in particular on how to cooperate with countries of origin and transit in jointly combatting illegal immigration. The Council acknowledged the need to develop a wide-ranging and balanced approach to migration issues as an integral part of wider co-operation with partner countries within existing or future EU agreements.

A number of member states, including Ireland, supported efforts to strengthen the role of the EU in tackling illegal immigration while at the same time underlining the need for proportionality in this area and highlighting the need to engage these countries in a positive way through assistance and co-operation in the field of illegal migration. A wide measure of support emerged at the General Affairs Council for the broad thrust of the package, which was forwarded to the Seville European Council on 21 June, where final agreement was reached.