Britain and France clash over joint EU border controls

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Disagreements between France and the UK over common EU border
controls have stalled interior ministers’ negotiations on security.
First steps towards a common asylum procedure are to be made later
this year.

EU interior ministers were split on 25 October over proposed
plans to set up joint patrols to protect the EU’s external
borders.

UK home secretary David Blunkett led a group of countries
opposed to the idea, saying “there won’t be a centrally run border
control agency”, while French interior minister Dominique de
Villepin led another group urging for more co-operation in this
field, according to reports from Reuters. 

Ministers, however, agreed on the “clear need for greater
practical cooperation” between member states on asylum policy, a
request supported by Mr de Villepin who advocated a common European
system of asylum to be established by 2010. They called on the
Commission to submit, before the end of this year, a ‘one stop
shop’ action plan paving the way for a future common European
asylum system.

The Council indicated that, “pending some outstanding issues”,
the draft multi-annual programme for the area of freedom, security
and justice (“The Hague Programme”) will be submitted to the next
EU summit for endorsement on 4 November.

Commissioner Vitorino also presented EU interior ministers with
a package of proposals to tackle terrorism adopted last week (see
EURACTIV, 22 October 2004).

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