Minister Flanagan attends the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels
Discussions on EU migration and asylum policy, EU Internal Security, Victims’ Rights, Alternative Measures to Detention and the Future of Civil Justice Cooperation
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, represented Ireland at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings in Brussels with EU Ministers on the 2nd and 3rd of December 2019.
Attending the Council, the Minister said:
I am delighted to represent Ireland at the Justice and Home Affairs Council and to have taken the opportunity to meet the new Commissioners a day after they took up office. We were able to discuss the priorities for Ireland and for the Union at this important juncture. As a committed member of the European Union it is important that Ireland’s voice is heard and that we have our say in the priorities driving the Union under the new Commission.
Commenting on the discussion on the future of EU migration and asylum policy, Minister Flanagan said:
There is clearly a renewed impetus on the part of the Member States and the Commission to make necessary improvements to the European asylum system. We now have an opportunity to assess where we are at and to find the consensus needed to move forward. No Member State wants things to continue as they are and the fresh perspective of the new Commission will help us to design a European asylum system that is fair, robust, humane and sustainable. At the core of our European Values is protection of life and respect for fundamental freedoms. Our asylum and migration policy needs to encapsulate these core values. It needs to work efficiently, be targeted and be effective. It must undermine the unscrupulous people smugglers who hold no regard for the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable. This is what we are working for.
Speaking about the adoption by the Council of conclusions to prioritise work on strengthening, promoting and protecting the rights of Victims, Minister Flanagan said
Today Ministers agreed our priorities for Victims’ Rights for the Commission’s new term. We called for an EU Strategy on Victims’ Rights with a special emphasis on victims of violent crimes. We called for this Strategy to include a systematic approach to ensure victims’ effective access to justice and compensation. I was pleased to take the opportunity to outline the measures Ireland has taken to enhance victim’s rights in recent years. This important work will continue. I believe that victims of crime must be at the heart of our work as Justice Ministers. The ratification by Ireland of the Istanbul Convention earlier this year is a measure of the progress we have made but expressing our support for these EU Conclusions shows this is not the end. Ireland remains committed to reinforcing and protecting the rights of victims because by definition they are at the core of a victims orientated system.
Ministers also discussed Alternative Measures to Detention, which Minister Flanagan believes are an important part of a suite of measures available to tackle crime. Commenting on the discussion the Minister said:
Rehabilitation and preventing reoffending is to the benefit of our communities and we should use appropriate alternatives to detention when this is in society’s interests. We progress policies based on what is in the interests of our citizens and of our communities and nowhere is this more important than in the criminal justice area.