My noble Friend, Baroness Williams of Trafford, has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers held its most recent meeting in Seville on 15 and 16 October 2017. Representatives from Morocco and the European Commission also attended the meeting.
The summit was chaired by the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido, and I represented the United Kingdom. The other participating states were represented by Mariusz Blaszczac (Minister of the Interior, Poland) and Jakub Skiba (Deputy Minister, Poland), Gérard Collomb (Minister of the Interior, France), and Dr Emily Haber (State Secretary, Germany). Morocco was represented by Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit. Italy was represented by their Ambassador to Spain. The European Commission was represented by Dimitris Avramopoulos (Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship) and Sir Julian King (Commissioner for the Security Union).
Following an informal dinner on Sunday evening, the first session on migration took place on Monday 16 October. Attendees agreed that continued co-operation between countries of origin and those of destination is critical. The discussion covered lessons to learn from work on the central and eastern Mediterranean routes, including positive results from the action plan of the European Council, the EU-Turkey deal, and bilateral work with Libya, Morocco and Nigeria. There was general consensus that migratory pressure remains high, and that pressure from the sub-Saharan region will continue to rise. Participants considered how best to counter this pressure along three lines: legal migration; appropriate development assistance in areas of greatest need; and the fight against illegal migration. Discussion also touched on how the EU and Morocco can build on current successful co-operation to better manage migratory pressure from the sub-Saharan region on Morocco.
The final session focused on counter-terrorism. There was general consensus on the importance of enhancing information and intelligence exchange through channels such as Interpol and Europol, and to continue existing good co-operation in this area. Recent rulings on communications data retention were covered, and the potential challenges for law enforcement agencies that these implied were discussed. Discussion also covered ways to improve co-operation between all stakeholders to remove terrorist related internet content and make the extremism counter-narrative more effective. Participants concluded with a discussion on radicalisation prevention processes, particularly among young people, agreeing on the benefits of exchanging experience and best practice with third countries.
In my interventions, I reaffirmed the UK’s continuing commitment to help member states manage the EU’s external borders and to deliver joint efforts upstream. I emphasised our support for EU actions in Africa and Asia that will impact on all Mediterranean routes, including faster allocation of EU funding for upstream projects and the new resettlement proposals to protect genuine refugees in first countries of asylum and reduce the need for secondary movement. During the session on counter-terrorism I highlighted the UK’s work in this area, in particular on the Prevent programme and tackling terrorists’ use of the internet. I encouraged attendees to ensure that proposed European Commission guidelines do not go further than necessary in placing unhelpful restrictions on member states’ data retention regimes.