30 June 2006 - 20:30 CET on Europe by Satellite

EU-BALKANS: towards visa facilitation?

View the newspackage (warning: this is pre-edited footage for TV professionals - not an edited programme)


00:00 Cutaways of the conference on visa regime towards Western Balkans in the European Parliament organized by MEP Jelko Kacin

00:09 Cutaways of Jelko Kacin

00:24 Cutaways of European Commission’s officials attending the conference

00:28 Cutaways of people attending the conference

00:35 Cutaways of the young writers form Western Balkans presenting their stories on visa queues

And extracts from the stories

03:14 Cutaways of Nick Whyte from ICG and MEP Gisela Kallenbach attending the conference

03:18 Officials from the European Commission

03:22 Wide cutaway of the room

03:28 Interview with Mr Dautpasic, from the delegation for Bosnia and Herzegovina on the work of the delegation for exploratory talks for facilitation of visa regime and the process of facilitation

“Vrlo bitna cinjenica je u tome da smo poceli ekspertne razgovore sa kolegama iz Evropske Komisije, koji se odnose na liberalizaciju, odnosno olaksanje viznog rezim prema nasim gradjanima kao I o ugovoru o readmisiji sa Evropskom Komisijom.”

“Mi I dalje nastavljamo razgovore, idemo dalje, dakle potrebno je jos dosta stvari uraditi.Upravo mozemo komentarisati izjavu gospodina Fratinija kada je rekao da uvodjenje bijometriskog pasosa I sklapanje ugovora o readmisji su najvazniji preduslovi da bismo poceli olaksavanje viznog rezima ka konacnome ukidanju.”

04:11 Cutaways of European Commissioner for Justice, Mr Franco Frattini, in his office

04:29 Frattini reads and signs documents

04:51 Interview with Franco Frattini on the proposal for a mandate for negotiation from the European Council and what kind of message it sends to the region

“Now, I am preparing the concrete proposals to get a mandate by the Council very soon, the proposal will be adopted by the European Commission under my proposal by July 17th, so very soon, and I will illustrate in details all the proposals to the Council of Ministers of Interior on July 24th, before that, there will be an expert meeting In order to evaluate concretely the substance of these proposals. That’s my idea and I think that it’s important to show, not only my commitment but the importance of ginig the countries of the region a concrete message: we are ready, we present all the mandates for visa facilitation and then it’s up to the Council to take the final decision.”

06:04 What is expected from the Council?

“It will depend on the political good will of the Council and member states. I will propose a comprehensive package based on the state-by-state situation. This package will include not only visa facilitation, it will include a proposal for readmission agreements concerning illegal migrants, and it will include some proposals to increase security, like security of passports, security of ID or improving security at external borders. It is a comprehensive package showing the European commitment to help states of Western Balkans and also, frankly speaking, reassuring member states of EU about our aim, our aim is to give people in the Western Balkans region facilities and freedom of circulation while keeping a proper level of security. That’s our balanced approach. I think that the Finnish Presidency aims at coming up with at least one mandate by the end of this year, which is good. I will try to encourage, if it’s possible, member states, to do more, in other words to speed up the process of evaluation based on state-by-state approach and for example come up with two mandates by the end of this year.”

08:08 On the state-by-state situation

“I see Macedonia in a quite particular condition because Macedonia is a candidate state. But at the same time I see for example Serbia making progress, but also Bosnia-Herzegovina making progress if I think about security and fighting organized crime. But my intention is not to prioritize at this moment. On the contrary, my intention is to help all states in the region. Why not think about Albania which has already in force a readmission agreement. Albania is the only state of the Western Balkans having in force so far a readmission agreement for illegal migrants. So, I have to consider the whole region, then we will discuss with member states, it’s possible in my view through a diplomatic approach to explain the good reasons of each country to member states of EU. E.g. to show concrete results in terms of fighting organized crime or preventing trafficking in human beings or in securing passports with the biometric identifiers. That is a reassuring approach, because I have to defend states of Balkans but I have to defend a defendable cause frankly speaking, so please give me a valid argument to defend.”

10:14 Cutaways of Frattini visiting the Polish/Ukrainian border post at Korczowa

11:22 Frattini on favoured categories of citizens to get a visa facilitation

“The priorities come from states themselves, so governments indicate lists of categories and on the top of the list there are always students, young people and I fully agree with this approach because students have to have the concrete possibility to attend to a university course or to a theatre in the EU. We doubt a lot of problems about getting visas, if I think about business community, it’s the same. I can understand very well why it’s so important that business persons quite freely circulate around Europe, in order to attract investments to the countries of the region, of the Balkans region, then we could take into consideration other categories but it depends first of all on the list put on the table by governments, not by EU.

12:43 On the liberalisation of the visa regime for the region

I understand that they aspire to have a liberalised regime in the coming years, now it’s too premature but I can tell you that if there will be a constructive approach, which I strongly hope, from all the countries in the region, if there will be a mutual trust between governments and European Commission, it will be possible immediately after negotiating on visa facilitation to open a real substantial talks about conditions to improve the level of circulation towards visa liberalisation.”

13:43 Border control on Frankfurt airport: panel

13:49 Volunteer passenger registering his biometric data to participate in the project testing automated and biometerics supported border controls enabling persons travelling on non Schengen flights to enter and leave German territory without having to undergo manual checks.

15:33 Airport’s main hall

15:39 Passport control

15:52 Special biometric-supported passport control procedure and volunteer going through

16:39 Flights panel

16:49 Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn speaking about visa facilitation in the European parliament

“Sometimes people tend to forget that the European Union is not a federation. In other words it is in the hands of the member states to finally decide on the visa facilitation. First in the Council on the basis of the negotiating mandate, then negotiations with each and every country of the region and then once there is a result of the negotiations, an agreement, then it is necessary that each member state applies this agreement because they have the powers in the field of Justice and Home Affairs where visa facilitation falls. Then it was very important that when Ursula Plassnik, the Foreign Minister of Austria concluded the Foreign Ministers meeting ten days ago. I don’t reveal a secret if I refer to her conclusion in this regard, she encouraged each Foreign Minister from EU-25 to convince and persuade their colleagues in the Ministries of Interior to make a real progress in this field, because it really is in the interest of the EU to make serious and rapid progress in visa facilitation with the Western Balkans countries.”

18:15 Cutaways of border control in Bulgaria

18:43 Cutaways of Bulgarian border – trucks being controlled

19:20 A driver opening his merchandise: jeans inside

20:03 Frattini on the police reform as a requirement for visa facilitation in the Western Balkans

“It is indeed one very important point, I just talked about police reform a few days ago with the Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who visited me in Brussels. I told the PM: Europe is ready to help Bosnia Herzegovina in reforming police, in making more modern and well-trained the police in your country and I think it’s very important as a political message towards the public opinion. We are getting support by the European Commission, by the EU, on a structural reform of the police, but the same applies to the other countries of the region.”

21:00 Cutaways of Paris: arc de triomphe and people in the streets

21:10 Vox pop (in French) in the streets of Paris on the EU visa regime towards the Western Balkans: why is it so? Do you find it normal?

Young man, middle 30: « Avoir un visa pour faire du tourisme, bon c’est vrai que je trouve ça con, avoir un visa pour venir chercher du boulot, pourquoi pas, après, avoir un visa pour venir s’installer, c’est peut-être pas le visa, le papier en lui-même qui est important. C’est qu’est-ce qu’on vient faire en France ? »

21:42 Woman in her fifties : « Ils font pas partie de l’Europe encore, je pense que c’est justifié qu’on leur demande un visa pour venir en France. »

21:51 Man in his sixties : « Non, ça me paraît pas normal, les pays des Balkans logiquement ils devraient pouvoir se rendre en Europe facilement.”

22:00 Man in his fifites : « Non, anormal, c’est l’ouverture en principe aux frontières, c’est l’Europe unie, ça se limite pas à 27 ou à 32, en principe c’est tout le continent européen, ils ont peur pour la main d’ouvre, parce que tous ces pays là, s’ils rentraient, tous ces gens s’ils rentraient en France, il y aurait plus de français au travail. C’est pour préserver un peu le… C’est dommage mais j’espère que ça va changer. »

22:31 Young man (20) : « Ils font quand même pas partie de l’Europe et on fait partie d’une communauté qui doit concurrencer les Etats-Unis quand même, donc ce serait un peu bête de demander à des personnes proches de chez nous, qui font partie de notre famille européenne de devoir faire tout un tas de papiers pour pouvoir travailler en France. »

22:53 Man 50-60 : : « Ben, oui parce que sans vouloir faire de ségrégation, je pense que ce sont quand même des pays où il peut y avoir des personnes à risque et ça peut peut être amener dans la Communauté européenne des gens qui ont envie de faire des attentats ou des choses comme ça. C’est mon impression mais encore une fois je n’ai que des connaissances superficielles sur le sujet.»

23:31 Cutaways of Brussels : Atomium

23:36 Vox Pop in the streets of Brussels on the same subject (French)

Young girl (20): “Oui, tant que il n’y a pas de coordination encore au niveau des 25, c’est obligatoire. C’est normal, il faut bien pouvoir contrôler qui rentre et qui sort des pays. Dans un but de contrôle de l’immigration, pour pas que n’importa qui puisse rentrer et que on exploite les travailleurs n’importe comment ou même les personnes qui rentrent, que ce soit travailleurs ou pas d’illeurs, parce que c’est ni bien pour eux ni bien pour le pays d’accueil je pense. »

24:05 Young man (30) « C’est une question de confiance envers ces pays là, savoir si les gens vont rester, en fait c’est lié à l’immigration, pour éviter l’immigration clandestine, et à terme je crois que ces pays vont rentrer dans l’UE, donc ce ne sera plus nécessaire. Je crois qu’on pourra avoir des accords de partenariat qui éviteraient justement d’avoir des visas. »

24:38 Man in his fifties : « Oui et non. Je pense que… ça c’est un énorme débat humain. Parce que, moi, j’estime que tout le monde pourrait aller partout sur la terre mais c’est vrai que je pense qu’il faut un certain contrôle pour éviter les terroristes, la drogue et tous ces…vous voyez ce que je veux dire. Alors uniquement dans ce sens là, oui je pense que c’est indispensable. »

25:05 Young man (30) : « Le terrorisme dans ces pays là je pense pas que ce soit vraiment un problème. Après est-ce que ça peut résoudre le problème ou limiter la criminalité organisée je crois pas parce que ici en Belgique il y a déjà toutes les mafias du monde et c’est tous des pays où il faut un visa, ça les a pas empêchés de venir. Pour moi, au moins il faudrait faciliter pour les étudiants, les gens qui viennent avec un projet précis. C’est sûr que le gars qui est dans sa campagne et qui veut venir ici, il va peut être rien faire de très positif ici, maintenant pour les étudiants, les journalistes, qui viennent faire quelque chose de précis ici, c’est un peu débile de à chaque fois leur faire faire les démarches avec je suppose des frais etc… »

25:46 Cutaways of a Roma man playing music for money in front of the European Commision