HC Deb 25 March 2003 vol 402 c122W
16. Ms Dari Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the EU on strengthening cooperation on asylum and immigration policy in Europe. [104474]

Mr. Rammell

In Geneva last week I held discussions on the UK's ideas for improving asylum policy in Europe with my Spanish and Finish counterparts and with Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister proposed a UK initiative on asylum to the European Council on 21 March. The initiative aims at better global management and protection of asylum seekers through improved regional management of migration flows, and the creation of processing centres on transit routes to Europe. The council invited the commission to explore the UK's ideas further and report back to the Thessaloniki European Council in June.

The Foreign Office is working very closely with the Home Office, as the lead Department, on this agenda. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and Home Office Ministers have regular meetings with their opposite numbers. EU Interior Ministers will discuss the UK's ideas at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28–29 March.