The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers held its most recent meeting in Rome on 20 and 21 October 2016. Representatives of the United States of America and the European Commission also attended the meeting.
The summit was chaired by the Italian Minister of the Interior, Angelino Alfano, and I represented the United Kingdom. The other participating states were represented by Jorge Fernandez Diaz (Spain), Tomasz Orlowski (Polish ambassador to Italy), Bernard Cazeneuve (France), and Thomas de Maizière (Germany). The USA was represented by Jeh Johnson (US Secretary of Homeland Security) and Loretta Lynch (US Attorney General). The European Commission was represented by Dimitris Avramopoulos (Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship) and Sir Julian King (Commissioner for the Security Union). Representatives from other organisations including UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration, Interpol and Europol also attended.
The first session took place on 20 October. This consisted of a discussion on migration in the 21st century, focusing on effective upstream action in source and transit countries, particularly in Africa. The discussion also covered procedures to identify those in need of protection, how to deter economic migrants who do not need our protection and approaches to enhance co-operation with transit countries. There was a general consensus that upstream intervention was essential to addressing the issue of illegal migration to the EU but that this will take time and will involve concerted and continued efforts by the EU and all G6 States.
The meeting continued on Friday 21 October, with the next session on security and terrorism, focusing on efforts to counter radicalisation. The attendees agreed the need to learn from each other and the importance of working closely with communities to deter extremism. Participants noted that counter-radicalisation policies worked best when delivered in a “bottom up” way with full engagement from local communities in designing and developing the right strategies. The group reaffirmed the G6’s commitment to ensure that steps to improve security and counter terrorism are at the forefront of the EU’s political agenda.
The final session focused on cyber-security, which had been chosen as a discussion topic on the basis that, as technology progresses and cloud computing grows, cybercrime is perhaps the fastest growing criminal threat that we face. The attendees discussed how best to co-operate to address the problem and considered the implementation of the Budapest convention on cybercrime.
In my interventions, I outlined the large amount of work the UK is doing to address the current migratory pressures, including our upstream work, and reaffirmed our continuing commitment to help front-line member states manage the EU’s external borders. I also sought agreement from other member states that the EU’s approach to partnership frameworks with third countries must be comprehensive, and reiterated the three principles as set out in the Prime Minister’s speech at the UN General Assembly: to ensure that refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach in the region; to improve the ways we and our partners distinguish between refugees fleeing persecution and economic migrants; and to agree a better overall approach to managing economic migration which recognises that all countries have the right to control their borders. During the session on security I shared UK’s experience of countering extremism and radicalisation and highlighted the work of the Prevent programme. At the final session on cybercrime I reiterated the UK’s support for increased international co-operation to address cybercrime, and highlighted the work of the UK’s new National Cyber Security Centre in tackling this threat.
The next G6 will take place in Poland and is likely to be held early in 2017.