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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08USEUBRUSSELS325 2008-03-04 09:26:00 UNCLASSIFIED USEU Brussels
Cable title:  

LIECHTENSTEIN SET TO JOIN SCHENGEN AREA

Tags:   CVIS PREL PREF SMIG KCRM EUN 
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VZCZCXYZ5318
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBS #0325/01 0640926
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040926Z MAR 08
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA
					  UNCLAS USEU BRUSSELS 000325 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS PREL PREF SMIG KCRM EUN
SUBJECT: LIECHTENSTEIN SET TO JOIN SCHENGEN AREA


SUMMARY
-------



1. In addition to discussions of the Visa Waiver Program and the
question of the MOU with the Czech Republic (SEPTEL), EU Interior
ministers in the February 28 JHA Council gave their backing to
Liechtenstein's entry into the Schengen area in spite of the tax
fraud scandal now affecting the principality's relations with
Germany and other EU countries. Ministers signed a Schengen
Protocol that paves the way for Liechtenstein's accession to the
borderless zone along with Switzerland in November 2008, subject to
ratification of the instrument by the other Schengen members. The
Council also confirmed another delay of the entry into force of the
second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) to September


2009. The Council did not solve all outstanding issues related to
the transformation of Europol (European Police Office) into a
fully-fledged EU agency. Commission Vice-President Frattini
proposed that EU Member States should guarantee "some kind of mutual
recognition of (the right to) protection" for people under national
security protection. Full text of Council conclusions has been
transmitted to EUR/ERA and can be found on the EU Council website
(http://consilium.europa.eu). END SUMMARY.

LIECHTENSTEIN TO JOIN SCHENGEN AREA


--------------------------





2. EU Interior ministers in the February 28 JHA Council gave their
backing to Liechtenstein's entry into the Schengen area in spite of
the tax fraud scandal that is rocking the principality's relations
with Germany and other EU countries. EU officials reported that the
approval "went through without any debate." Commission
Vice-President Frattini told media that the tax evasion
investigations involving Liechtenstein should not prevent the
principality from entering the visa-free travel zone, arguing it was
"simply not possible to have an enclave in the center of Europe."
EU ministers consequently signed protocols on the accession of the
Liechtenstein to Schengen and to Eurodac/Dublin, alongside
representatives of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which was
represented by PM Hasler:
-- With the Schengen protocol, Liechtenstein will accede to the
Schengen association agreement with Switzerland, granting it the
same rights and obligations as the Swiss Confederation;
-- With the Eurodac/Dublin protocol, Liechtenstein will have to
accept the entire Dublin/Eurodac "acquis," i.e. the criteria and
mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a
request for asylum lodged in a Member State or in Switzerland.



3. Although the exact date of Liechtenstein's entry into "Schengen"
is not set in stone yet, accession is now closely tied to the
accession of Switzerland, which is due to join the area by November


2008. The Protocol still needs to be ratified by member countries,
which could still provide an opportunity for some EU members to
press for better cooperation on tax fraud. Asked if Germany would
hold off on approving Liechtenstein's accession, Interior Minister
Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters: "In principle we are willing to
ratify it, but there have been talks (on combating fraud) and they
have to show some effect."

SCHENGEN INFORMATION SYSTEM


--------------------------





4. The ministers have also confirmed yet another delay of the entry
into force of the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS
II), from December 2008 to September 2009. By that date, all
Schengen members will have to move to the new system, thus allowing
the sharing of biometric data on top of information gathered in the
current database. The ministers also discussed ways of preventing
another delay. A group of Member States, including Germany, France,
Italy and Spain, has set up an informal "Friends of SIS II" group to
push for a speedy launch of the new database.

RETURNING ILLEGALLY-STAYING NON-EU NATIONALS


--------------------------





5. The Council noted the state of play of a draft proposal on
common standards and procedures in Member States for returning
illegally staying non-EU nationals. The proposal deals with issues
such as the voluntary departure of returnees, the execution of a
return decision through a removal procedure, the postponement of
removal, the imposition of entry bans as accompanying measure to a
return decision, the form of the return decision, remedies against a
return decision and the safeguards for a returnee pending return,
etc. The Directive has to be adopted in co-decision with the
European Parliament. The Slovenian Presidency, which is pushing for
a first-reading agreement with the EP, reported progress in its
talks with Parliament and within the competent Council bodies.

FRAMEWORK-DECISION ON COMBATING TERRORISM


--------------------------




6. The Council reviewed a proposal amending its 2002
Framework-Decision on combating terrorism, which criminalizes
terrorist offences prepared or committed with the aim of seriously
damaging a country or international organization. The proposal
would make incitement to commit terrorist acts, public incitement to
commit such acts and recruiting for terrorism and training
punishable offenses, while bringing the EU piece into line with the
2005 COE (Council of Europe) Convention on the Prevention of
Terrorism. The criminalization of the aforementioned acts under the
Framework Decision will make it possible for sanctions and rules on
jurisdiction to be applied, as laid down in the Decision. Europol
and Eurojust would be able to conduct investigations more
efficiently. Most EU Member States support the inclusion of the
principle of proportionality in the preamble. The Slovenian
Presidency will strive to ensure basic agreement on the text at the
April JHA Council.
EUROPOL


--------------------------





7. The Council discussed specific issues raised by the draft
Decision establishing the European Police Office, which would make
Europol a fully-fledged EU Agency. Ministers agreed on the lifting
of immunity for Europol officials when participating in operational
activities, especially Joint Investigation Teams (JITs), as well as
on the principle of staff rotation and the possibility for Europol
staff participating in JIT to receive instructions from the team
leader. They failed on the issue of the agency's budget, as some
Member States, led by net EU budget contributors the Netherlands and
Sweden, had questions on Community financing. The Commission will
submit additional information to the Council. The Slovenian
Presidency will seek a political agreement on the draft at the April
JHA Council.

HIRSI ALI: FRATTINI PROPOSES EU-WIDE PROTECTION


--------------------------

--



8. Speaking at the final press conference, Commission
Vice-President Frattini said the Council heard a presentation by
Dutch Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin concerning the case of Ayaan
Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch lawmaker facing death threats for her
outspoken criticism of Islam. The Dutch government stopped paying
for her security in October 2007 after she moved to the U.S.
Frattini told reporters he had made a proposal to ministers for the
EU countries "to think about some kind of mutual recognition of (the
right to) protection" for people under national security protection.
Frattini said he "noted a unanimous consensus" among ministers to
guarantee the right of free movement. He argued that such EU-wide
recognition would be natural "to guarantee one of the most important
rights," adding: "We reaffirm the principle of mutual recognition in
so many cases. Why not in situations where people are under
threat?" Frattini did not go into specifics nor did he provide any
indication on the financing of protection costs. While Frattini may
find it logical that the host country would have to bear the
protection costs, other EU sources voiced doubts such a scheme could
be implemented so easily. Hirsi Ali visited the European Parliament
in Brussels some two weeks ago. French MEPs started a campaign to
generate support for the EU to pay for her security.

OTHER ISSUES


--------------------------





9. The Council reviewed the state of play in the ratification of
the U.S.-EU Agreements on extradition and mutual assistance in
criminal matters signed in Washington in June 2003. The Slovenian
Presidency noted that a majority of Member States have already
completed the ratification procedure. The topic failed to draw any
public comment.



10. Justice ministers also:
-- Recorded their formal approval (thus confirming a decision
reached in principle during the previous Portuguese Presidency) on a
draft Directive on certain aspects of mediation in civil and
economic matters. This piece is designed to ease access to
alternative dispute resolution and promote the settlement of
disputes out of court. The draft still has to be reviewed by the
European Parliament;

-- Heard presentations by the Commission of its proposals for a
Directive on ship-source pollution and for the creation of a
"Justice Forum" of legal practitioners dealing with the
implementation, enforcement and consequences of Justice, Freedom and
Security (JLS) policies, to be involved in a dialogue with the
Commission JLS department.

MURRAY