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C 261 E/162

Official Journal of the European Communities

EN
EN

18.9.2001

Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

(15 May 2001)

1. The European Year of Languages will give rise to many events and debates throughout 2001 on

matters relating to European linguistic diversity, particularly regional and minority languages. The Commission plans to draw lessons from all these initiatives and discussions, and to arrive at conclusions

as early as next year.

2. The criteria for Membership laid down at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993 include ‘the

respect for and protection of minorities’. In assessing progress made by the candidate countries with regard to this criterion, the Commission devotes particular attention to the respect for, and the implementation of, the various principles laid down in the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, including those related to the use of minority languages.

3. As of 1997, the Commission has regularly assessed progress made by the candidate countries in

meeting the Copenhagen criteria, first in its 1997 Opinions, and subsequently in its Regular Reports adopted in the autumn of 1998, 1999 and 2000 respectively.

In order to help the candidate countries remedy the specific weaknesses and shortcomings identified in the Regular Reports, the Community has established an Accession Partnership for each of the candidate countries. These Accession Partnerships put forward short and medium-term priorities for each country to fulfil the accession criteria. They also indicate the financial assistance available from the Community in support of these priorities and the conditions attached to that assistance. They are updated on a regular basis.

The regular assessment of progress made by the candidate countries in meeting the requirements set by the Copenhagen political criteria, supported by the Accession Partnerships, has led to positive developments in all candidate countries, also as regards respect for minority rights and the protection of minorities, including the use of minority languages. The Commission continues its work in this direction.

(2001/C 261 E/188)

WRITTEN

QUESTION E-0621/01

by Nelly Maes (Verts/ALE) to the Council

Subject: Belgian visas

(2 March 2001)

The injudicious issuing of Belgian visas is a matter which needs to be looked at under the third pillar of the European Union (justice and home affairs), in particular because the temporary right of residence in the Belgian Federation automatically confers access to all Schengen countries. Such rights of residence are worth their weight in gold to criminals and they throw the immigration sector wide open to corruption.

Last year Belgium issued some 9 500 visas to Moroccan applicants. Roughly 88 % of these visas (for both short-term and long-term periods) were issued by the Aliens Service in Brussels, despite an opinion to the contrary from the consular services in Morocco. Hence, despite the fact that the applications fail to satisfy the criteria, such opinion is systematically ignored.

Some applicants have openly said that they have no intention of travelling to Belgium, but rather to one of the other Schengen countries where the issuing of visas is subject to stricter rules.

This is why the opinion of the consular services is negative, but the Aliens Service invariably replies that the visa still has to be issued to the applicant. It is feared that more and more traffickers in humans will try to enter the EUJ via Morocco.

18.9.2001

EN
EN

Official Journal of the European Communities

C 261 E/163

This will render null and void action by the EU to stop lucrative routes for human trafficking.

Is the Council aware of the injudicious issuing of Belgian visas?

If so, what action has the Council taken to induce the Belgian Federation to find a solution to this problem?

If not, will the Council seek information about the fraud involving Belgian visas, given the importance it has for the third pillar of European Union (justice and home affairs) and the policy of the Schengen countries?

(2001/C 261 E/189)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0622/01

by Nelly Maes (Verts/ALE) to the Council

Subject: Belgian visas

(2 March 2001)

The injudicious issuing of Belgian visas is a matter which needs to be looked at under the third pillar of the European Union (justice and home affairs), in particular because the temporary right of residence in the Belgian Federation automatically confers access to all Schengen countries. Such rights of residence are worth their weight in gold to criminals and they throw the immigration sector wide open to corruption.

Last year Belgium issued some 9 500 visas to Moroccan applicants. Roughly 88 % of these visas (for both short-term and long-term periods) were issued by the Aliens Service in Brussels, despite an opinion to the contrary from the consular services in Morocco. Hence, despite the fact that the applications fail to satisfy the criteria, such opinion is systematically ignored.

Some applicants have openly said that they have no intention of travelling to Belgium, but rather to one of the other Schengen countries where the issuing of visas is subject to stricter rules.

This is why the opinion of the consular services is negative, but the Aliens Service invariably replies that the visa still has to be issued to the applicant. It is feared that more and more traffickers in humans will try to enter the EUJ via Morocco.

This will render null and void action by the EU to stop lucrative routes for human trafficking.

In view of the facts set out above, has the Council urged the Belgian Federation to include fundamental preventive measures in its visa policy, such as a rotation system for sensitive posts, dual checks and the screening of officials?

If so, when did the Council make this request to the Belgian Federation?

If not, why has the Council not yet urged the inclusion of fundamental preventive measures in the Belgian Federation’s visa policy, given the importance it has for the third pillar of European Union (justice and home affairs) and the policy of the Schengen countries? Will the Council now urge the Belgian Federation to take such measures?