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Today, the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) heard Estonia's positions for the extraordinary meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union, which will be held tomorrow and where Estonia is represented by Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu and Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur.

Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling emphasised that all people who apply for international protection have to be registered immediately upon arrival.

“We are ready to help, Frontex has promised to support, but today the situation has gone too far,” Palling said. He was resolute in saying that all refugees arriving in Europe must be registered. “Those who are entitled to it will be allowed to enter, and who are not, will be sent back to a safe country,” he said.

Palling was critical of Greece and Italy. “They obviously hope that it would be better if these people were somewhere else. They do not register the refugees, and just send them on,” Palling said. “We have been speaking about the necessity of registration for half a year, but practically we are still in the same situation where there are no refugees in Italy and Greece.”

Palling expressed hope that all people who arrive will be registered as a result of the pressure from other Member States. He admitted that it is easy to accuse Germany and Sweden, who have welcomed the refugees with open arms, of the consequences of the migration crisis, but its original reason is that Greece and Italy just let people pass through their countries. Instead of requesting technical details, it is in his opinion necessary to strengthen the border guard, which would mean not allowing people to the EU before all procedures have been completed.

Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur supported Palling by saying that cooperation both between the Member States and with different agencies is of great importance. In Pevkur’s opinion, tomorrow’s extraordinary meeting of the ministers of the interior will give a strong signal that all people who enter the European Union have to pass security control, and their fingerprints must be taken.

As of 11 November, 40 percent of all applications for international protection in Greece have been submitted by refugees coming from Syria. Surprisingly, the same indicator for Italy is 0.2 percent, and in the opinion of the Minister of the Interior, the explanation for this is that the refugees either do not apply for asylum in Italy, or Italy just let them pass through and does not register them.

Besides strengthening of the internal borders, the issues that will be discussed at the extraordinary meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Council concern collecting the data of air passengers also on the internal flights of Europe, amending the Firearms Directive and information exchange. Efforts to control the financing channels of terrorism are discussed as a separate item.

The ministers of justice will discuss information exchange on the penal register of people from third countries, extending the criminalisation of terrorism and criminal surveillance focused in Islamic extremism.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
Phone: +372 631 6356, +372 515 3903
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee