§ Sir John Wheeler
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the meeting of Trevi and European Community Immigration Ministers in Lisbon on 11 and 12 June.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Discussion at the meeting of Trevi Ministers focused on the establishment of Europol—a European police office to facilitate the exchange of information and experience necessary to prevent and combat terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international crime. It was agreed that a convention between the member states would be needed before Europol could be fully operational. However, work on the first stage of Europol—the European drugs unit —-is proceeding with the aim of establishing the unit by 1 January 1993 on the basis of a preliminary agreement among the member states.
It was agreed that a project team led by Germany should be established to take work forward on the unit. The project team would begin its work in Strasbourg. No decision was taken on the future location of Europol.
The meeting of Ministers concerned with immigration. which was attended by a vice president of the European Commission, was the 12th in the series of meetings held towards the end of each presidency since 1986. The European Commission made a statement on its communication setting out its views on the requirements of article 8A of the treaty of Rome which has now been deposited in Parliament according to the normal rules for scrutiny of Community documents.
I made clear the Government's view that article 8A applies only to EC nationals and had no effect on our 131W entitlement to retain a frontier-based system for controlling third country nationals. I emphasised that such a system necessitates a light check on EC nationals in order to ensure that the control of third country nationals is not evaded. I stressed the desirability of avoiding confronta-tion on this issue and I expressed a willingness to explore ways of keeping delays at frontiers to an unavoidable minimum in the interests of British and other Community citizens.
I join other Ministers in stressing the importance of the external frontiers convention, signature of which continues to be held up because of a problem raised by Spain over the application of the convention to Gibraltar.
On asylum, I announced that the United Kingdom hoped to ratify the Dublin convention shortly. Ministers agreed to consider extending the system of the Dublin convention to third countries, by means of a parallel convention.
Ministers discussed the issue of refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina.