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Wednesday 6th February 2013 | 14:36
Conservative Press release
Conservatives MEPs act to protect immigration borders
Conservative MEPs today helped to vote through a key package of measures
which will help to strengthen Europe's borders against illegal
immigration and make it easier for Britain to send asylum seekers back
to their point of entry to the EU.
The measures were approved by a majority of the European Parliament
sitting in Strasbourg.
Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman on Home Affairs, said: "Far
from encouraging asylum seekers or racking up costs to taxpayers, this
vote will make Europe's borders stronger against illegal immigration at
what are currently its weakest points. There will be not a penny in
extra cost to European taxpayers, but it will ultimately mean that more
asylum-seekers currently in Britain get returned to the country where
they first entered the EU."
The vote approved a proposal from the Commission to relax stipulations
on match-funding which if they stayed in place would stop cash-strapped
Mediterranean States accessing the External Borders Fund, which helps
them fight illegal immigration and deal efficiently and fairly with
asylum seekers. Because of the economic crisis, some EU countries have
found themselves unable to meet rigorous match-funding conditions to
access their share of EU-funded projects and programmes. That has
created a real danger that key projects would be stopped altogether. The
Parliament approved the Commission's proposal which allows for increased
Mr Kirkhope said: "Critics should have realised the change is
budget-neutral and for only one year. It will merely require
impoverished Member States to lay out less money themselves - and these
are the very member states where Europe's immigration defences are,
unfortunately, most porous."
Conservative MEPs believe the funding will be crucial for Greece - and
indirectly for the UK. At the moment the Dublin Agreement - which says
asylum seekers in any EU state should always be returned to the state
where they first arrived in the EU - has been suspended in the case of
Greece (by a ruling of the European Court of Justice) because facilities
and structures for handling asylum cases there are inadequate.
Greece is a common route into Europe for both asylum seekers and for
Mr Kirkhope said: "In the long run our vote should help Greece get its
house in order and enable Britain to start returning asylum seekers
"This scheme is about stopping illegal immigration at the very root by
protecting the EU's external border."