PES home affairs ministers: measures necessary to contain the spread of the pandemic should not undermine Schengen integrity

27/01/2021 - The Spanish Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska chaired the meeting for the first time, giving the opportunity to PES ministers to exchange views on the Portuguese Presidency priorities on home affairs, with the presence of Portuguese minister Eduardo Cabrita, Commissioner Ylva Johansson, and S&D MEPs

PES Home Affairs ministers

PES home affairs ministers during their meeting via videoconference

European countries are having to take unprecedented measures to deal with an unprecedented crisis. This is necessary to save lives. At the same time, they must also embrace mutual trust and cooperation to safeguard Schengen for the future, PES home affairs ministers concluded today as they met by videoconference.

PES home affairs ministers were joined by MEPs and European Commissioner Ylva Johansson to exchange on migration, the Schengen Area and EUROPOL.

Spanish Minister of the Interior and ministerial Chair, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, said:

“We understand that Member States are taking measures against COVID-19. Keeping everyone safe must be our number one priority and we must contain the spread of the virus together. These restrictive measures should only be temporary and limited in scope, while taking into consideration the reality of many European citizens. It is fundamental to safeguard the functioning of the Schengen area because it is one of the most significant European accomplishments and we must be ready to protect it and restore its integrity as soon as possible.

“Schengen is vital for many cross-border regions and their inhabitants. For millions of citizens, moving freely between Member States is a daily routine. But more than that, Schengen is a symbol of European integration and solidarity.

“Now is the time to focus on mutual trust and cooperation between Member States to end the pandemic and build a comprehensive plan to restore Schengen as soon as possible. That plan must be fair for all. It is time to prepare Schengen and its future, recognising its value to the recovery and its role in EU solidarity.”

The meeting also discussed EU asylum and migration policy with Commissioner Ylva Johansson. The ministers commended the work by Commissioner Johansson on this issue, one of the most challenging facing Europe. In the presence of Minister Eduardo Cabrita, Portuguese Minister of Home Affairs, the meeting agreed that it is time to grasp the opportunity of the Portuguese Presidency and move forward, in a progressive manner, towards a managed and orderly EU asylum and migration policy based on true solidarity, respecting human rights and fundamental rights of all. Europe must build close cooperation, on an equal footing, with third-country partners, and particularly African nations.

Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to a reinforced and strengthened EUROPOL. Police cooperation among Member States is essential for the security of citizens, and particularly for tackling organised crime and terrorist networks operating across borders. The meeting stressed the importance of better cooperation to address the ‘big data’ challenges for law enforcement.

The Home Affairs ministerial convened for the first time during this legislative cycle and agreed to continue to meet to coordinate their efforts through the socialist and democratic political family, on the basis of shared progressive values.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Chair, Minister for Home Affairs, Spain
  • Matias Tesfaye, Minister for Immigration and Integration, Denmark
  • Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Luxembourg
  • Eduardo Cabrita, Minister for Home Affairs, Portugal
  • Morgan Johansson, Minister for Justice and Migration, Sweden
  • Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs
  • Kati Piri, MEP, Vice-president of the S&D Group
  • Pedro Marques, MEP, Vice-president of the S&D Group, PES Coordinator for the implementation of the Commission Work Programme, European Parliament.
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES