London MEP Jean Lambert has called for an immediate halt to deportation of asylum seekers following the breakdown of European negotiations on minimum standards for deciding asylum claims.
Home secretary David Blunkett and fellow Justice ministers meeting in Luxembourg last week abandoned their meeting without reaching agreement on how EU members should decide asylum claims.
Mrs Lambert, a member of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee whose London constituency contains the UK’s highest density of asylum seekers, slammed the breakdown of talks and insisted deportations should stop until agreement is reached.
She said: ‘It is contemptible that the Justice and Home Affairs Council cannot reach agreement on minimum standards for asylum seekers. This incredibly important issue has been put off again, even as Justice ministers are seeking ways to more efficiently export their obligations.’
‘There should be a moratorium on further efforts to expel and repatriate asylum-seekers until the Council manages to think positively and make progress on the minimum standards and definitions directive. If they can’t even decide who is entitled to stay, then they shouldn’t be finalising plans on how to throw them out.’
Mrs Lambert also rejected Tony Blair’s plans to export the refugee problem to camps outside the EU -a proposal ministers also failed to agree at the Luxembourg meeting.
EU Justice ministers also remained inconclusive on the British initiative on asylum policies as laid out in the so-called Blair paper. Mrs Lambert echoed NGOs and refugee organisations, which have been critical of the Government’s proposal to create refugees’ camps outside the European Union, arguing that the camps could be created in countries that will not provide sufficient protection.
Mrs Lambert commented: ‘This plan threatens the existing national and international protection of refugees. Member states need to create common high standards for the asylum and refugee policy, which are in line with the principles of the Geneva Convention. If we cannot make decisions on how to deal with immigration and asylum-seekers within Europe, we shouldn’t be trying to export the problem.’