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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 8 March 2011
Rt Hon Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr Aidan Burley
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witnesses
Witness: Dr Franck Düvell, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford University, gave evidence.
Q39 Chair: Welcome, Mr Düvell. This is the second evidence session of the Committee’s inquiry into the implications of Turkey joining the European Union as far as Migration and Justice and Home Affairs issues are concerned. You may like to know that the Committee visited Istanbul and Ankara last week, so some of the questions that we ask you will be specifically directed to our visit. I am not sure whether you yourself have visited Turkey as part of the important work you are doing for your centre.
Dr Düvell: Yes, a couple of times, two or three times a year.
Q40 Chair: Excellent. Can I start by asking you about your assessment as to the numbers of people who might exercise their right to freedom of movement if Turkey joins the European Union at some stage in the future?
Dr Düvell: I have prepared a little brief with all the relevant papers. The question you ask is probably the most difficult to answer.
Chair: That is why we have asked it of you.
Dr Düvell: I would hesitate to give any figures on the potential of migration. At the moment, we have a research project ongoing in Turkey, EU-funded, where we conduct a large-scale survey on people’s perceptions of migration. The results will only be available as early as six or seven months’ time. What we can say right now is that emigration from Turkey to Europe has dropped significantly to probably below 50,000 every year.
Q41 Chair: I am going to press you on this, because you have been researching this matter for some time and your organisation is a respected organisation as far as migration flows are concerned. This may well just be a guesstimate from you but I think the Committee would like to know, because at the moment there has been no impact assessment as to the number of people who might come in. Is that correct; nobody has done an impact assessment?
Dr Düvell: No, not that I’m aware of.
Q42 Chair: So give us a clue, give us an estimate as to how many you think might exercise their right of movement.
Dr Düvell: We have a significant population growth but also population aging. We have an underperforming labour market that is not able to absorb the working age population. This is the one side of the equation. The other side is that we have significant internal migration from the population growth part in the east to the aging part in the west and most of these migrants are, at the moment, absorbed, still absorbed by the labour market.
Q43 Chair: Yes. I understand the analysis, it is an excellent analysis, but I am trying to press you on figures and you must be able to give us some indication of figures since you have been looking at this matter for some time. Is it 10,000, 5,000, more?
Dr Düvell: I can’t see why it would change significantly from the 50,000 emigrating from Turkey to Europe at the moment. It could increase. Youth, students might flow, let’s say 60,000, 70,000, but this is only out migration, not taking into account return migration. At the moment, Turkey’s migration balance is already negative; negative to Germany, negative with other countries.
Q44 Chair: That was going to be my next question but you estimate it is going to be about 70,000. It is a very rough figure; no one is going to call you back and-
Dr Düvell: It is a guesstimate, yes, not much more. I would need more time to look at all the data and the figures.
Q45 Chair: Moving on to the German-Turkish diaspora, because in this country we have about 150,000 people of Turkish origin who are here, with a total population of about 500,000. Are you telling the Committee that there is negative migration as between Germany and Turkey? More people are going from Germany back to Turkey; is that correct?
Dr Düvell: According to official numbers, and I believe they are accurate, yes, and there is negative migration from Germany to Turkey for four years now. So there is a certain trend. Whether that is sort of persisting in the view of the economic crisis, we don’t know, but I am rather confident that we will see more of this type of return migration, yes.
Q46 Chair: What is the negative figure?
Dr Düvell: It is about 7,000 to 8,000 each year, so for the past four years it is about 35,000 people.
Q47 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would just like to clarify, Dr Düvell, when you say 70,000 people emigrating from Turkey, are they 70,000 Turkish nationals or are they people from other countries who are transiting into Turkey and then moving on?
Dr Düvell: I talk about Turkish nationals only. At the moment, we have maybe transit migration mostly clandestine, irregular, in the order of 45,000, 50,000 last year but this is already a significant drop from the peak in 2000, so it has dropped by 70%. I would expect a further drop.
Q48 Mr Clappison: The 70,000 figure that you mention, that is from Turkey to the whole of the EU, is it?
Dr Düvell: To the whole of the EU, yes.
Q49 Mr Clappison: How do you get that figure?
Dr Düvell: I have the data from various sources, which is Turkish statistics, which are highly unreliable, EU statistics like Eurostat, certain national figures like the German Federal Office on Migration of Refugees, as well as OECD figures. I almost check anything - like CIA, like World Bank, IMF, whatever I get hold of, - and they all agree, basically.
Q50 Mr Clappison: As far as this country is concerned, we are concerned with Turkish nationals and others who may wish to migrate to this country. At the moment there are visa controls in place, and Turkey doesn’t have the benefit of the freedom of movement to work that it would have if it was a member of the EU. Turkish economic conditions; you have mentioned unemployment. We know that Turkey is growing. You said it has high levels of unemployment and it is hard for the labour market to absorb some of the labour that is coming forward. It has a young population, younger than this country. Its average wage is significantly lower than the average wage in this country, is it not? It has a larger population than this country and a rapidly growing population and all the conditions are there for substantial migration from Turkey to this country, including the fact there is already a substantial Turkish population in this country.
Dr Düvell: If I compare the case of Turkey, for example, with Poland, we need to recognise that Polish citizens have almost been incarcerated in their country for 40 years. Borders opened up suddenly in the early 1990s and there was an urge of large numbers of people to migrate. This is certainly very different in the case of Turkey where many people have already left Turkey and still continue to leave Turkey to join families but numbers are very low. The labour migration from Turkey to Europe is almost zero and what is left is student migration in the order of-how many come to the UK-9,000 or 10,000 every year, students.
Q51 Mr Clappison: Polish migration was part of the A8 accession that took place in 2004 and Poland had no longer been a prison camp, as you put it, for some years when that took place. What did happen though was that Polish people obtained the right to come and work in this country, as Turkish people would if we were to take the same step of dismantling border controls. The Polish average wage is higher than that of Turkey, isn’t it?
Dr Düvell: Yes, that is probably true. I haven’t looked at wages. What I can’t see is this sort of culture of migration that has been building up in Poland for quite a while and really took off in the early 2000s when very many Poles initially came illegally and then after 20004 obviously came legally.
Q52 Mr Clappison: It wasn’t just confined to Poland. I am going to suggest to you that all the same conditions are in place as were in place in the case of Poland and the other Eastern European EU Member States-we also had significant numbers from them-to generate migration to this country. We have to be extremely careful about any predictions that we receive, as indeed this Committee urged the Government to be careful about them in 2004 when we were told it was only 13,000 people would come from Poland. Do you accept that?
Dr Düvell: The big difference is-
Q53 Chair: I pressed you to give us a figure in the first place. Sorry, would you reply to Mr Clappison?
Dr Düvell: Not that much of a migration system, not that much of a migration network, not that much of a migration industry in the sense we had in the case of Poland. I think that is very important. Also important is that many Turks are already here, so they have already emigrated, those who are willing to migrate, so I would assume fewer people still wanting to migrate.
Q54 Mr Clappison: I am sorry to interrupt you but isn’t that commonly seen as a factor that encourages migration? This Committee has been told in the past where there is a significant population already in this country, from a country that migration might take place from, that is a factor that encourages migration. We were told by the EU that there wouldn’t be that much migration from Romania or Bulgaria because there weren’t that many Romanians or Bulgarians in this country, to put it the other way.
Dr Düvell: It sounds plausible but if we look at the current number of migration in particular from Turkey to the UK, student migration, family reunification, it is very, very low. I just can’t see much of a network effect, which seems plausible to assume; it doesn’t seem to happen so far.
Q55 Mr Winnick: The position of Turkish workers going to an EU country, would it be right to say it has always been Germany that has been the main destination of Turkish workers seeking employment?
Dr Düvell: That is without any doubt true. The overwhelming majority of all the Turks in the EU live in Germany; significant numbers in Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands, also in France. The UK is one of the least popular destinations among Turkish migrants. Half of the Turkish migrants in the UK originate from Cyprus, so there is a colonial Cypriot link. Some of them have mixed marriages, Greek-Turkish, so it is very difficult. Half of the people you talk about are actually the Cypriots.
Q56 Mr Winnick: Dr Düvell, during the late 1960s, when I travelled pretty frequently on the train, before I flew, between Munich and Istanbul-a rather unpleasant journey that I wouldn’t recommend-I got the impression speaking to Turkish workers who could speak English, since I can’t speak either German or Turkish, that there was hardly any tension in Germany at the time. They were coming back to Turkey for the holidays; they seemed quite content and the rest of it. Do you think arising from more recent events of religious revival and fundamentalism that tensions have arisen in Germany in the last five to 10 years that didn’t exist before regarding Turkish workers?
Dr Düvell: That is certainly true, yes.
Q57 Mr Winnick: Because of fundamentalism or German intolerance?
Dr Düvell: It is mixed. As you may know, German policy towards immigrants, ethnic minorities, is very different from UK politics, in particular meaning that people remain foreigners. It is much more difficult to become a citizen of society. Even second, third generation Turks are still felt to be foreigners, so there is a certain feeling of rejection and feeling of discrimination, feeling, "We are not wanted, we don’t really belong". People search for alternative identities, and then the issue of religion, Turkish identity comes up again, so this is fuelling it. Of course, unemployment plays a role, which again has economic as well as cultural reasons.
Q58 Bridget Phillipson: You mentioned in your report that Turkey is a major sending country for migrants, but when we were recently in Turkey the authorities there were keen to stress that they view Turkey as a transit country. Could you just comment on that, please?
Dr Düvell: When I got your questions, I realised that I probably made a mistake here, because this is a misunderstanding. In historical terms, Turkey has always been a major emigration country. We still have this large number of ethnic Turk nationals in EU and in other countries. At the moment, Turkish emigration is negative, so we have more immigration to Turkey than out migration. In that sense, Turkey certainly is more accurately described as an immigration country on the one hand and as a transit country on the other hand. This transit country position is related to the change of flows. The flow from Morocco has been stopped; the flow through Libya has been stopped, at least for the last couple of years; the flow through Ukraine has decreased significantly. So Turkey is the last loophole and even there numbers are much lower than they were 10 years ago.
Q59 Bridget Phillipson: So those migrants, either legal or illegal, coming into the EU through Turkey may not be Turkish themselves. They may have come from other countries and used Turkey as a route into the EU.
Dr Düvell: I have myself never heard of any Turkish national using this route like crossing borders clandestinely into Greece or taking a boat to the Greek Islands. This is exclusively third country nationals. How many of these would qualify as refugees and would get into the asylum system, I don’t know; 70%, 80%, I would assume, because it’s mostly Iraqis, Afghanians, Iranians, Somalis, Palestinians.
Q60 Alun Michael: One of the points that you have made is the number of migrants who are trying to cross into the EU from Turkey arise because Turkey applies geographical limitations to the 1951 Geneva Convention and they exclude non-European citizens from applying for asylum there. How big a factor is that? Can you quantify that?
Dr Düvell: I can only guess but would assume that more than half of all those asylum-seeking migrants coming to the EU would probably agree to stay in Turkey if they were to get access to asylum procedures, but not only that, that would need to come with some kind of documentation that legalises their stay as well as some integration effort in terms of language courses, whatever. People who come from neighbouring countries, there is a familiarity; they have the same religion, languages are similar. That is why I would assume that people would be prepared to stay, also in the light that we have significant communities of Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians and so on already living in Turkey.
Q61 Alun Michael: Just to be clear, you are saying that about half of the people who use Turkey as a transit arrangement are those that are affected by this refusal to consider nonEuropean citizens for applying for asylum?
Dr Düvell: No, all are affected or maybe 90% are affected by a lack of access to asylum procedures but more than half of those who are affected, I would assume, would be prepared to consider staying in Turkey because they have relatives there, communities there, language, religion, employment opportunities and so on.
Q62 Alun Michael: Am I right in thinking that Turkey would have to abandon those limitations on gaining access to EU membership?
Dr Düvell: Absolutely. This is a condition of the accession negotiations and there is no way out of this obligation. I have seen the latest draft of the Turkish migration and asylum law. They still haven’t dropped the limitation. Consultations are going on with civil society, with international partners, so there is still hope of Turkey accepting its responsibility in this sense.
Q63 Lorraine Fullbrook: Dr Düvell, we heard during our visit from the Ministry of the Interior, the police and other organisations that there were several reasons why migrants transiting Turkey, not necessarily Turkish nationals but migrants transiting Turkey, want to come to the UK, because they had heard they enjoy a high standard of rights protections here, they have family networks, the benefits on offer here and also the chance of finding work. Does that match your findings as a researcher of migration patterns?
Dr Düvell: Yes, it does. As I say, for some people it would be an option to stay in Turkey and for others obviously it isn’t. Those who have family members and strong family relations with family members in EU countries would certainly continue wanting to come here. Opportunities in the labour market play a role, education, language acquisition; all that plays a role. As I say, those coming from neighbouring countries, which is the majority of people transiting Turkey, being Muslim themselves, speaking similar languages, having relatives in Turkey, as I say, Afghan community, Iranian community-
Q64 Lorraine Fullbrook: I am not specifically talking about family networks within Turkey. This is for migrants transiting Turkey, coming to the UK, who want to come through Europe to the UK.
Dr Düvell: Yes, that is what I’m talking about. I talk about the transit migrants who also have these networks and relatives in Turkey and some haven’t and those are the people who wish to continue to the EU.
Q65 Mark Reckless: What are your views on the proposed Readmission Agreement between Turkey and the EU and the implications if that is not agreed properly?
Dr Düvell: The Readmission Agreement: my understanding is that it would only apply to nonTurkish, third country nationals who enter the EU illegally and who would not qualify, who would not apply for asylum. This is a relatively small number because my understanding is that the majority of the arrivals apply for asylum, so they are in the system. They are rejected and then they can be removed but not back to Turkey but to the country of origin. I can’t really see to what extent that would make a major difference or to what extent that would significantly reduce the number of illegal transit migrants. Only those few that do not apply for asylum could be removed under the Readmission Agreement.
Q66 Mark Reckless: Are you suggesting there is not a significant problem with third country immigrants coming through Turkey and into the EU, particularly through Greece, because those that do mainly claim asylum in Turkey?
Dr Düvell: No, what I am saying is the transit migrants travelling through Turkey into the European Union, which is Greece, in their majority apply for asylum in Greece, or if they can avoid Greece and continue moving on, then they would apply in other countries; Germany for example, Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, wherever they can get to next. If they make it from Turkey to Denmark or Sweden on a flight, falsified passport, then they would apply for asylum there and then they won’t come under the Readmission Agreement of Turkey.
Q67 Mark Reckless: Is that because of the territorial opt-out that Turkey has from the 1951 Convention?
Dr Düvell: Yes. At the moment, only illegal immigrants who do not apply for asylum would be returned to Turkey, as is the case with countries like Ukraine, for example.
Q68 Mark Reckless: Finally from me, what is your impression of what impact, if any, Frontex have made on Turkish immigration issues?
Dr Düvell: I haven’t really seen any short-term impact in terms of a reduction in arrivals. Taking the lesson from the other Frontex operations, I would, in the medium and long term, anticipate a significant decrease. At the moment, what we see is that the previous practice of by night and irregularly removing people arriving from Greece back to Turkey, that has stopped because Frontex officers work according to international law. If people come in and apply for asylum, they are basically taken in, taken to the next detention centre. In the past, this did not necessarily happen because Greek border guards pushed back people even if they applied for asylum.
Q69 Mark Reckless: So Frontex has been increasing the amount of immigration to the EU, are you saying?
Dr Düvell: Short term, yes. What I see and hear is that the smugglers are moving back their activities and businesses to the Aegean Sea and the cities and villages down there, but that has always been expected because they change routes all the time and that would probably have happened. I have students in the field talking to smugglers and they were saying, "Oh, the smugglers are quite happy with Frontex because people are no longer pushed back". Their business is not affected at all by Frontex and they were always intending to move back their business to the Aegean Sea.
Q70 Mark Reckless: That is not at all excellent. We understood the spending on Frontex was to help reduce immigration to the EU, so a very interesting take on that.
Dr Düvell: Medium term, yes.
Q71 Mark Reckless: We shall see. Is your organisation EU-funded in terms of the research?
Dr Düvell: No. Our centre is ESRC-funded, Economic and Social Research Council UK, but several of our projects, including mine, are EU-funded, yes.
Q72 Bridget Phillipson: On the issue of those transiting through Turkey and seeking asylum in Greece, you mentioned that some of those refugees may seek to continue onwards rather than seeking asylum in Greece. Is that as a result of the concerns there are around the Greek system? I am wondering, if that is the case, what knock-on effect might we then see if Turkey were to join? You talked about this earlier, whether people would then have to seek-Turkey would have to change its arrangement so that it can accept refugees.
Dr Düvell: One of the main conditions contributing to on-migration of refugees from Greece to other EU countries is a very, very low recognition rate, which is below 1%, so people can’t get refugee status even if they have genuine fears of persecution. There is almost no refugee integration in terms of accommodation, language courses, help for getting settled, and people know all this, try to avoid Greece as much as they can. Boats now go from Turkey to Italy directly just to avoid Greece, or via Bulgaria into Hungary and then on to Austria. The main reason for people wanting to move on from Greece is lack of access to asylum procedures, lack of access to documentation and lack of integration policy measures.
Q73 Steve McCabe: Good morning. You said earlier that you thought one of the reasons why so many Poles came here after the accession was because it had been a closed country. Is there any other explanation for why we got the estimates so badly wrong for the numbers of people who might come after A8 accession?
Dr Düvell: I always found these Polish earlier estimates ridiculously low, to be honest, because there was the migration industry, there was the migration culture, there was the urge of the young generation of Poles to leave the country and go somewhere else, and terribly underestimated was the fact that only three countries opened up for Turkish migration: UK, Sweden and Ireland. Sweden is not the most popular destination. I would have assumed that Poles would have gone to other countries in much bigger numbers, so they would have been dispersed across the EU instead of mostly coming to the UK. The same principle applies to any considerations one would want to make with respect to the UK. The number of people coming here significantly depends on the policies and decisions in the other Member States.
Q74 Steve McCabe: There may be an obvious answer to this but I can’t think of it. If we badly underestimated it last time round, how could we get much better estimates this time? What would we need to take into account that was overlooked last time?
Dr Düvell: It is not enough to look at statistics and figures. We have to go to the sending country, conduct large-scale surveys about people’s aspirations, wishes, perceptions, and look at it from the sending country perspective as well and that would take, research-wise, two to three years in order to generate meaningful results. I am not aware that we have done that with the accession countries.
Q75 Steve McCabe: All right, but given the progress that Turkey is making, we have got time on our side on that one. Just tell me, the other thing we heard in Turkey from some officials was that if they did join the EU, they thought, because of their comparative growth, there was every likelihood that Turkey could become a destination country for people wanting to go there because of the benefits. That seems slightly in doubt, given some of the points Mr Clappison was raising, but do you think there is any merit in the idea that if Turkey was a member we would see a flow of migrants to Turkey?
Dr Düvell: I agree with that assumption. We have 1.2 million foreign-born people in Turkey already. We have annual immigration to Turkey in the order of 200,000 people, but this is a very, very conservative figure because we don’t have reliable Turkish figures. The figure is probably much, much higher. There is a significant informal economy, representing maybe 40% of the overall economy, so there is employment opportunities in the Turkish labour market for regular and irregular migrants, in particular for the highly skilled, and this is what see now, who were educated in Germany and who have now moved back, second and third generation Turks, because there are more and better opportunities in Turkey. Since Turkey is regionally economically and politically integrating with all its neighbours in Northern Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, I would also assume in-migration of some significant level to Turkey, yes. Turkey is almost certainly becoming an immigration country, I agree with that.
Q76 Steve McCabe: I just want to know which nationalities do you think would flow back to Turkey?
Dr Düvell: Flow back?
Steve McCabe: Yes. If we are going to see this flow of people to Turkey, what nationalities would make up that?
Dr Düvell: Moldovans, Bulgarians, Romanians, Syrians, Iranians, from all the northern Mediterranean coast, Morocco, Algeria. We have migrants there already and there would be more to come.
Q77 Mr Clappison: Just a point of clarification following on from the last question. My points to you were based upon economic and external factors. They were no reflection at all on Turkish culture and society and achievements in history, all of which are very positive in my view.
Dr Düvell: Thank you very much.
Q78 Chair: We are most grateful for that. Dr Düvell, thank you so much for coming in. If there is other information-this inquiry will be ongoing for some time-that you might find that is useful to this Committee, please will you write to us?
Dr Düvell: Yes. I will leave my notes here for the Committee on the table.
Chair: Excellent. The Clerk will collect it. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Examination of Witnesses
Witness: Rob Wainwright, Director, Europol, gave evidence.
Q79 Chair: Could I could call to the dais Rob Wainwright, the Director of Europol? Mr Wainwright, welcome back to the Committee. Thank you very much. We know you must be extraordinarily busy. Thank you for coming to London to give evidence to the Committee. We have just returned from Turkey where we saw some extremely useful presentations by the Turkish police and their equivalent to the SOCA as far as organised crime is concerned. Would Europol regard Turkey as a hub for organised crime?
Rob Wainwright: Good morning, Chairman and members. Thank you for inviting me to give evidence. It is a very interesting subject. If I may quickly say my reflections today are based on our own co-operation with Turkey. We have had a bilateral agreement with the Turkish authorities since 2004. Importantly, that is yet to extend to cover the exchange of operational data. It is a first stage in terms of our co-operation with the Turkish authorities, so we are not engaged directly in operational co-operation with the Turkish authorities yet. My reflections today, however, I think are still substantial in that they are based on how we see the picture of organised crime activity across Europe, plus our own observations of how the British and other police authorities around Europe regard Turkey in terms of their cooperation.
In answer to your question, yes, certainly we consider criminal activities that originate in Turkey, or pass through Turkey, have a significant impact on the internal security of the European Union. I can explain the aspects of that in more detail if you wish but that is certainly our summary view at the moment.
Q80 Chair: We looked at the increasing number of cocaine seizures in Istanbul and elsewhere and the developing links between West Africa and Turkey, since, because Turkish Airlines is now flying more flights more people are coming in, but there was a feeling, I think, that they were on the outside in a real sense of trying to deal with these criminals because they were not part of Europol. Frontex was on the other side of the border, because they were in Greece, and Interpol wasn’t really mentioned in the discussions we had. Do you think that the increased cocaine seizures are causing a problem to us here in the United Kingdom? Not increased cocaine seizures but increased level of cocaine.
Rob Wainwright: What we are seeing in Turkey is what we are seeing around the rest of Continental Europe, and indeed in the UK, a general diversification of organised crime and a proliferation of different trafficking routes, and the emergence suddenly of Turkey being an important transhipment point for cocaine is a very good illustration of that. There are many other examples around Europe. We are also seeing other new trends that are interesting in Turkey, for example Turkish organised crime involvement in the production and trafficking of counterfeit euros. So whereas 10 years ago this was largely a heroin problem with some illegal migration, it has diversified into many other areas of organised crime and that is a pattern that we are seeing across Europe.
The extent to which this happens because Turkey is not a member of the EU, does matter. I would agree with the impression that you create that because they are not a member of Europol, for example, they don’t enjoy the same services that other European law enforcement has in terms of our ability to connect police teams together in order for us to make connections between the intelligence picture, for example, of organised crime across Europe. With Turkey being outside of the EU, therefore, it certainly makes cooperation more difficult, notwithstanding some excellent bilateral cooperation that the UK and other leading European countries have with Turkey.
Q81 Chair: One question on fact, which is that the Turkish police told us that they estimate that they have stopped between 10% to 15% of cocaine entering the EU. Do you think that is an accurate figure? You don’t know?
Rob Wainwright: It’s difficult for me to judge that, Mr Chairman. I would, however, caution against a view that Turkey has become a leading, major transhipment point for cocaine in Europe. It is certainly a notable new feature but still we see pre-eminent in this problem the arrival of cocaine through the Iberian coastline, from West Africa as well up through the southern Mediterranean, into the Baltic Sea as well, up through the Adriatic Sea. Turkey is just one of a number of routes, as I said, that has proliferated. 10% to 15% seems rather high but I have no factual basis on which to reject those claims.
Q82 Mark Reckless: You mentioned strong co-operation between SOCA and the Turks on a bilateral basis, and the Committee saw that very significantly when we were in Turkey. You say there are difficulties with Europol working with Turkey because Turkey isn’t a member of the EU, but surely this just relates to Europol. Why can’t you effectively work with them?
Rob Wainwright: Clearly if they were a EU Member State they automatically get full membership to all of the services that we provide. Now, even before that, of course, it is possible for us to have extensive cooperation with them. We have cooperation instruments with 17 nonEU countries and about seven or eight are fullblown cooperation that allows for the exchange of what we call personal information as well, for example with the United States. We have not yet concluded that agreement with Turkey, as per the requirements of a legal framework, principally because we are going through the stages of assessing, for example, the data protection standards in Turkey. Only after that work is done can we conclude that arrangement. In fact, as I am informed, for example, when I briefly met the Turkish Minister of the Interior earlier this year, Turkey has not yet passed the relevant data protection legislation in Turkey that would allow it to meet certain standards in Europe, which would allow us, therefore, to conclude an agreement there and thereby exchange personal information. This is an EU administrative issue that has to be worked through, as it is in every case. We are well on the road to concluding an agreement with them but it is not signed yet.
Q83 Mark Reckless: Shouldn’t we put the necessity of cooperation against organised crime and smuggling before EU administrative arrangements? SOCA, for instance, seems to be able to cooperate perfectly satisfactory bilaterally. Why can’t Europol?
Rob Wainwright: Because we are governed by our own unique legal framework, which reflects, for example, the very strong priority that is given to maintaining very robust data protection standards in terms of the law enforcement activities that we carry out. In this case, we have to be satisfied that the legislator, including the British Home Secretary, has signed up to a Europol legal framework that puts very clear requirements on me, as the director, to meet certain important issues in that respect before I conclude an arrangement.
Q84 Mark Reckless: So our priority of effective cooperation with Turkey, would we be better to pursue that on a bilateral basis and potentially through Interpol?
Rob Wainwright: Interpol does not have the capability either to support very sensitive, ongoing investigation, because it doesn’t deal with sensitive intelligence. It operates at the more everyday police level, still makes a very valuable contribution. I think in answer to your question, for the moment the bilateral cooperation that the UK and other European countries has works well. I think it can be supplemented and will be supplemented by effective arrangements or more effective arrangements with Europol in the future.
Q85 Alun Michael: Can I just follow that a little further? You said that relations with the police in the UK are good. That is what we heard from SOCA and it is certainly what we heard during the course of our visit. We also heard that cooperation with other EU Member States and their police forces is, I think the polite way of putting it, more variable. Is that your experience? Sorry, firstly the bilateral arrangements with countries like particularly, I would think, Germany, Holland, France.
Rob Wainwright: From a Europol perspective do you mean, or specifically in the context of Turkey?
Alun Michael: All right, let me ask the two questions. One, the impression that we have been given is that the bilateral relations with the police in the UK are good but that they are not as good with other countries, such as the ones I have just referred to. Secondly, that perhaps has implications for the relationship with Europol.
Rob Wainwright: We are supporting about 13,000 major crossborder operations each year. That is a figure from last year that is already 25% greater than the year before. Of that, almost 1,000 of them are initiated by the UK, which tells a story about the UK being a major leading partner in Europol. In fact, Germany beats them to the first place, so we have no complaints about our cooperation with Germany, and with France as well.
Q86 Alun Michael: Sorry, Europol doesn’t have any complaints?
Rob Wainwright: No, we have no complaints at all about the cooperation that we are able to facilitate of a cross-border European nature. We are busy increasing our operational-
Q87 Alun Michael: I’m sorry, you are answering a different question to the one I asked. You are talking about the relationship between Europol and the different national police forces. I was asking about the links in the context of Turkey specifically.
Rob Wainwright: What I see also from my own experience as a senior member of SOCA is certainly bilateral cooperation between SOCA and Turkey is very strong and it is what the Turkish authorities still tell me in my new context. Germany, I think, has a very strong track record of co-operating with the Turkish authorities as well. Beyond that, I don’t have enough information to make comments on the individual countries’ perceptions.
Alun Michael: That is very tactful of you, as we would expect from an experienced-
Rob Wainwright: We got there eventually.
Q88 Alun Michael: What practical difference do you think EU membership would make? That would presumably change the situation in that the Turkish authorities, Turkish police would then be members of Europol rather than an external partner, as it were. How much of a difference do you think that would make?
Rob Wainwright: It would make a big difference. If you compare our experience of the last major wave of accession, today Romanian and Bulgarian authorities play a very big role in Europol. Bringing them inside our police structures, for example, allows them to exchange information on a much freer basis. It allows, for example, the European police community, through Europol, to import their specific skills and experience of fighting organised crime, to integrate them into the mainstream, into the culture of the work that we do, to learn from their best practice. The Turkish national police in particular does some excellent work in fighting organised crime and I would want to import that into European policing.
Q89 Alun Michael: Can I explore that one stage further? You have mentioned the positives and you have made that very clear indeed but what are the obstacles at the moment? What are the things that, because they are not within the ambit of Europol, provide barriers at the present moment?
Rob Wainwright: As I was explaining to Mr Reckless, it is simply that we haven’t yet concluded the necessary legal agreement to allow us to exchange operational information with the Turkish authorities.
Q90 Alun Michael: So it is a legal obstacle more than anything else?
Rob Wainwright: It is a legal obstacle, but I think even with that there is a cultural obstacle. It is still then a third party agreement that would allow them to post a liaison officer to Europol of course but it wouldn’t integrate them into the mainstream of our work. It wouldn’t give them the access to our daily life in the way that a full-blown Member State would have.
Q91 Dr Huppert: There have been some discussions about the disadvantages if Turkey doesn’t join the EU. I would like you to expand on that, particularly because presumably the level of cooperation that Turkey currently shows is partly in anticipation of closer working with the EU and eventually possible membership. If we were to decide, say, not to give membership, what do you think would be the impact on cooperation, for example with the heroin trade? Presumably it causes very few problems for Turkey, the problems are felt elsewhere in the EU, and similarly with security measures. Do you think there is a great risk that Turkey would cease cooperating, or cooperate a lot less, and that, therefore, we should encourage continued closer working?
Rob Wainwright: I think there is a risk of that and, as I said, against the backdrop of what is this general diversification of the organised crime threat. This tells us that Turkey is becoming more important not less important in terms of the internal security and that the EU is affecting an increasing number of criminal sectors, not just the traditional one of heroin, and it is making, therefore, more important the need for the closest possible police cooperation, in particular between the European police services and those in Turkey. Membership of the EU will provide a very good boost to that of course. Ongoing nonmembership of EU would have, I guess, an opposite effect.
Q92 Dr Huppert: So you would like to see it as close as possible from this perspective, leading to EU membership?
Rob Wainwright: From my perspective, I can only see the benefits of closer police cooperation between Turkey and the EU, and that is from my own professional opinion. I am sure it would yield significant benefits in making my job easier in fighting organised crime in Europe.
Q93 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would just like you to articulate specifically what you think the benefits would be, given that Turkey, currently outside the EU, are responsible for 21% of drug seizures across the whole of the European Union currently.
Rob Wainwright: We have Turkish criminals that are effectively controlling a large part of the heroin trade throughout Europe, not just in Turkey itself of course, a very extensive diaspora community in the UK, in the Netherlands, in neighbouring Bulgaria and Romania, and this, therefore, is the challenge for law enforcement in those countries to deal with those Turkish criminals. I think if Turkey is part of the EU, it would bring those investigators closer to their counterparts in Turkey and make it easier for them to investigate the opportunities and the-
Q94 Lorraine Fullbrook: I was really asking what benefits Europol would bring to the party if Turkey, currently outside the EU, is responsible for 21% of the drug seizures. What would Europol bring to the party that would increase that? They have more seizures than several other countries put together.
Rob Wainwright: We have to be careful with the estimates and I am not sure what estimates you’re relying on there.
Lorraine Fullbrook: This is specifically from COM.
Rob Wainwright: Whatever the estimates are, I think it is clear that we still have a sizeable drugs problem throughout Europe.
Lorraine Fullbrook: They are actual figures.
Rob Wainwright: What I am saying is that, in my experience-and I am observing organised crime activity on a pan-European basis and we are relying on a lot of information that we see on an everyday basis-it is very difficult to get very precise estimates. But whatever the estimates are, it is clear that we have a significant organised crime problem in Europe and perhaps the largest part of that is involved in illicit drug trafficking. I think, therefore, that we have many more challenges ahead of us. However successful, for example, Turkish and other authorities have been in seizing quantities of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs, perhaps a larger share of it is still freely circulating in society. We need, therefore, to seek any new opportunities that we have to increase the share of seizures that we have and bringing Turkish authorities closer to the mainstream of European police services, including and especially to the daily work of Europol, undoubtedly would be beneficial in that respect.
Q95 Mr Winnick: I think to a large extent what I was going to ask you has been covered in other ways, Mr Wainwright, so I won’t pursue it very far. At the core of all these questions from my colleagues is basically the criminality in Turkey, as in other countries, and basically the capacity of Turkey to deal with crime. Would you say, therefore, that it is more effective or less than neighbouring countries there, Romania, Bulgaria?
Rob Wainwright: It is difficult for me to make that comparison because my attention is really on the EU Member States. Over the experience of my career, I think the capacities of the Turkish national police in particular are relatively high compared to other police agencies in that region. Whether or not they are today higher or lower than those in Romania and Bulgaria, I couldn’t possibly judge that. I think they are already at a fairly high level, and that is reflected in, for example, the amount of seizures that the Turkish authorities are able to undertake.
Q96 Mr Winnick: Therefore, would you say, Mr Wainwright, that Turkey is a country whose government, which can be the subject of controversy like governments in any democracy, is far from complacent over criminality, that it has the same desire as other countries, including Britain, to deal effectively with criminals, be they drug dealers or any kind of criminality? Would that be your view?
Rob Wainwright: From my relatively narrow perspective of what I see of the Turkish authorities dealings with the European Union, including Europol, I am impressed by the commitment and energy.
Q97 Mr Winnick: You are impressed by the commitment?
Rob Wainwright: I am impressed by the commitment and energy that they show to prosecute this problem.
Q98 Steve McCabe: Mr Wainwright, I am sure you could write me an essay on this but I really want it in a sentence. What does Europol do that wouldn’t get done if you didn’t exist? It’s a genuine inquiry.
Mr Winnick: He would be made redundant.
Mr Rob Wainwright: That is one sentence I don’t want to give. I have the only law enforcement agency in Europe that sees organised crime and terrorist activity across Europe as a whole and that allows us, therefore, to identify criminal and terrorist connections that otherwise are not seen at purely a national level.
Q99 Steve McCabe: All right, thank you. Can I ask, I understand there is a proposal by the European Commission that the scrutiny should move to the European Parliament. What difference is that going to make and how do you view that?
Rob Wainwright: I think Europol is now an EU agency formally as of one year ago, which followed a change to our legal framework, and the European Parliament has become a constituent part of our budgetary authority and that has given them an important new role in terms of scrutinising our activities. According to our legal framework, that role is shared, that responsibility is shared with national parliaments, and as far as I am concerned it is important that Europol maintains a positive relationship with national and European parliaments. It is important for any police agency, including my own, to maintain a healthy, positive reputation with parliaments and with the public so that democratic accountability issues are properly addressed in the way that I think they are currently.
Q100 Steve McCabe: Very quickly, how are you scrutinised at the moment?
Rob Wainwright: I frequently attend European Parliament, the Home Affairs equivalent committee, the LIBE Committee. I attend it to give evidence on specific issues like this. That committee has a very important role in recommending what our budgetary limit should be, for example. We are currently discussing with the Commission and with Member States about how the range of scrutiny activities can be increased further, which they are likely to be within the next two years, in many other areas in terms of considering an annual report, our accounts, even the appointment of the Europol director. All these issues are on the table at the moment and I think we will see, over the next two or three years, some important developments in the scrutiny of Europol by the European Parliament.
Q101 Chair: Mr Wainwright, do you agree that we owe the Turks a debt of gratitude for the work that they are doing? They are not part of the EU. They are applicants. They don’t have access to your computers. There are issues that you cannot share with them because they are not part of Europol, but they are doing a terrific job in dealing with organised crime and illegal immigration.
Rob Wainwright: Yes. As I said in response to an earlier question, I am impressed by the energy and commitment and by the success that they have achieved over the recent years and I am keen to integrate that into the work of Europol.
Q102 Chair: Mr Wainwright, the Committee will come over and visit Europol in the near future, as we have done in the past.
Rob Wainwright: I’ll look forward to it.
Mr Winnick: Unless you’re made redundant by then.
Q103 Chair: I don’t know why Mr Winnick keeps talking about redundancy. This is not on the cards as far as we are concerned and we are not looking into that. We are grateful for the work that is being done by Europol and obviously very proud that we have a British representative at the head of Europol. Thank you very much for coming.
Rob Wainwright: Thank you, Chairman.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Damian Green MP, Minister for Immigration, Home Office, Patrick Moody, Director of International Policy Directorate, UKBA, and Philip Rushbrook, Deputy Head of International Directorate, Home Office, gave evidence.
Q104 Chair: Minister, thank you very much for coming to the Committee. Welcome back I should say. For the purposes of the record, would you introduce your officials?
Damian Green: Partly because I’m hopeless at remembering people’s titles, can I ask Philip and Patrick to introduce themselves?
Philip Rushbrook: I am Philip Rushbrook. I am the Deputy Head of the International Directorate of the Home Office.
Patrick Moody: Patrick Moody, Director of International Policy in the UK Border Agency.
Q105 Chair: Thank you. Minister, as you know, the Committee is conducting an inquiry into the implications, as far as the Justice and Home Affairs agenda is concerned, of the accession of Turkey into the EU, so we are concentrating on migration issues. We have just returned from a visit to Turkey. We have been to Ankara, Istanbul and Edirne where we saw the work that is being done by the Turkish authorities. I know you have been extraordinarily busy but have you managed to get over to Turkey since you have been appointed?
Damian Green: No, I haven’t, I’m afraid. You have the advantage of me there, but it is on the list of places that I need to go to because obviously particularly the Greek-Turkish border, as the interface between the EU and the outside world, is hugely important.
Q106 Chair: Indeed and that is exactly where the Committee went. We went to Edirne, which is at the border of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, and I think those who attended were very impressed by the work that is being done by the Turkish authorities. They are not part of the EU. They have applied to join the EU. They have only closed one chapter yet they are providing a great service to the people of this country. Do you think we should be grateful for what Turkey has done as far as organised crime and illegal immigration is concerned?
Damian Green: Yes. Turkey has worked hard on what are clearly important areas, not just for internal Turkish reasons but obviously for wider reasons. One of the reasons why the Government is an enthusiastic supporter of Turkish accession, while at the same time taking a fairly stringent view about meeting the accession criteria, is precisely so that both Turkey and Europe more widely, and including Britain, can benefit from improvements in the wide range of Justice and Home Affair areas that we are seeing in Turkey at the moment.
Q107 Chair: The Prime Minister, of course, in his speech in Ankara last year said, "I believe it is just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit within it". What we saw at the border was the Turkish authorities. We were taken to see a new detention centre, which had been built partly with EU money, which appeared to be of very good quality, probably on a par with Yarl’s Wood. We then went to Istanbul itself and we saw their detention centre there. There are still people coming in in huge numbers into Turkey, wanting to cross the border with Greece, and I am sure you have seen reports of what is happening in Greece. We will come on to questions about Frontex a little later. But there is huge pressure on the Turkish authorities. Do you think that we should be doing more to help them?
Damian Green: I think we are trying to do as much as is practically possible. We could talk about Frontex now, because this would seem the obvious time to do it. As you know, because we are not a full member of Schengen we are not allowed to be a full member of Frontex, even though the previous Government sensibly took court cases to try and ensure that we could play as big a role as possible in Frontex, and this Government supports that. We do play a role in Frontex. We can’t play a full role, but Frontex has been and will continue to be an extremely important part of practical help given by European countries to the Turkish authorities and the Greek authorities in ensuring that that very important, and what has in the past been rather porous, border crossing into Europe is made more effective. They have had the action team I am sure you all saw when you were there and are proposing to replace that with a more permanent arrangement. This seems to me a model of what Frontex should be doing. We will help in as many practical ways as possible to make sure that that border is helped to become less porous.
Q108 Chair: I think the feeling of the Committee is that Frontex is getting an awful lot of money, over 100 million pounds or euros, I can’t remember which, and not doing enough. The RABITs, of course, have been deployed on the Greek side but we have had evidence even today to suggest that perhaps they are not as effective as they ought to be and you are right, this is exactly what Frontex was intended to do, to police the external borders. Even though we are not part of Schengen, are you monitoring the situation as regards to what Frontex is doing, specifically the reports of the huge pressure on the Greeks? People are crossing the border, they are in Greece, and some are demanding residency permits, otherwise they will starve to death. These are very serious issues, are they not?
Damian Green: Indeed, and as well as doing what we can to help Frontex, given the constraints on us, the other European organisation that we are playing a very prominent role in is the European Asylum Support Office. In particular we see that EASO has a very significant role to play in helping the Greeks, and through the Greeks the Turkish Government, in making sure that things not just that happen at the border but the consequences of that, of the numbers coming into Greece, can be dealt with more effectively.
Clearly, Greece has had huge problems with its asylum system, that is why the Commission has suspended returns to Greece. We think that EASO is a very, very important body looking ahead to ensuring greater stability of the whole immigration and asylum system in that area and, as I say, we are working very hard to help this new organisation. It is only a few months old.
Q109 Chair: You have been positive about the implications of Turkey joining, but what about if they are not allowed to join? What do you think is the effect that will have on the Turks in their co-operation with us as far as the heroin trade is concerned and organised crime like illegal immigration? What do you think the reaction will be if they are told, "Sorry, you can’t join"?
Damian Green: Clearly the co-operation is extremely important and I don’t think it would be particularly helpful for me to speculate on a hypothesis like that. We are, as I say, as a Government enthusiastic about Turkish membership and I do think we are already seeing the first fruits of the negotiations in terms of some of the improvements we have seen, particularly in the Justice and Home Affairs areas, in Turkey. As I say, I am not sure it would be very sensible or helpful for me to speculate.
Q110 Steve McCabe: A quick question about Frontex. I read in one of the briefs that they were described as border guards. When I spoke to some of the people in Turkey they made it sound much more like they were officials and administrators. What exactly is Frontex in terms of what proportion of it are people we would recognise as guards or policing-type figures and what proportion are administrators?
Damian Green: I think Philip, you are probably best placed to go into the details.
Philip Rushbrook: The overall purpose of Frontex is really to build capacity in the border control systems around the EU. So, while they may have an administrative role, the overall aim is they are to build capacity, both operationally and strategically, within each of the countries. In essence they are a capacity-building force.
Q111 Steve McCabe: Does capacity in that sense mean-I just want to understand while I have got you right here. Is that like putting in a team to train a bunch of policemen to make them perform more effectively or is that a bunch of people to set up a capacity-building team? I am just trying to understand who these people are, because they did seem to cost a lot of money and we didn’t see the evidence of the policing side of the activity. That is all I am trying to understand.
Philip Rushbrook: I think that Frontex tends to tailor its response to individual countries. If a country’s border force is not performing to the usual expected EU standards, their efforts there would be to strengthen the capacity on the ground, the training, the calibre, the organisational processes, and work in conjunction with the national bodies. If you have a country where there are specific specialist problems then my understanding is Frontex aim to plug those gaps.
Q112 Steve McCabe: Do you have figures on this? Could you give the Committee figures of exactly who is there for that border operation and what kind of course they are designated for? It would be really good to see the breakdowns.
Chair: You seem to be nodding. Do you have the figures?
Patrick Moody: No, sir, I don’t have the figures in front of me. We would have to write with the exact figures.
Chair: If you could.
Patrick Moody: But to expand on what Philip said, while they primarily exist as capacity-building, they do have this ability to tailor to particular situations. The RABIT operation is primarily operational and is providing something closer to what would be perceived as border guards.
Q113 Chair: The Minister may not been over to Frontex but presumably you, Mr Rushbrook, and you, Mr Moody, you have been over to Warsaw to see Frontex.
Patrick Moody: I haven’t, I’m afraid, no.
Chair: You haven’t? Mr Rushbrook?
Philip Rushbrook: No, I haven’t because usually it is more senior personnel in UKBA are the main interlocutors with Frontex.
Chair: You mean there are people more senior than you?
Philip Rushbrook: I am afraid so, sir.
Q114 Alun Michael: I was interested in what you said, Minister, about the continuity of trying to influence the work of Frontex, and that seems a praiseworthy endeavour. We appreciate that in some sense it is partly external but do you get the impression that building the capacity inside our borders may be less important than, for instance, working to increase the effectiveness of Turkey as a partner in the work that they are doing? We certainly got the impression that there was more enthusiasm to engage were Frontex to be looking outside the boundaries for solutions rather than just sort of sitting inside a citadel.
Damian Green: I think there is a good point there. It is clearly better. We will have a more thorough solution if not only that Europe’s capacity, as it were, to police and patrol its own borders, which is as you have heard the role of Frontex, but that those countries immediately adjoining the European Union-particularly Turkey, which is obviously on one of the great illegal transit routes-improve their own capacity and changes their attitude. Well, that is unfair, but they should make sure that that they have the capacity to deal with those problems at their own borders on the other side, as it were.
Alun Michael: And is possibly a more effective partner.
Damian Green: That would make it so. One of the things I think we have all observed from previous accessions is that the act of application and going through the process of accession does wonders to ensure that people do all the things that are good for them and are good for the rest of Europe as well. I think that is the process that we did observe with Romania and Bulgaria and that we are now observing with Turkey as well, so the accession process itself is beneficial.
Q115 Alun Michael: Frontex ought to have a part in that?
Damian Green: In the end, until Turkey is a member of the EU, then Frontex can’t play a particularly important role inside Turkey. It is an independent sovereign state; it will have to take its own decisions as to what it does.
Q116 Mark Reckless: We saw little evidence of Frontex playing a position within Greece. Our previous witness, Mr Düvell, said that the impacts of Frontex have been to increase immigration and previously people have been turned back on the Greek border but now they were being welcomed in. Do you have a view on that?
Damian Green: I have seen no evidence that suggests that having Frontex there encourages people to come on the route. I think the forces that make people look for routes into the EU are clearly complex and hugely international. It used to be the case a few years ago that the main route, if you like, of illegal immigration into Europe was across Libya. That was stopped and the main route then became through Turkey into Greece. I think it would be unfair and wrong to blame Frontex for that. I take the point that clearly the Committee has come back from Turkey where they would like to see Frontex improve its capacity and improve its operations, but I think it would be unfair to the complexity of the situation to say, "Well it’s all Frontex’s fault".
Chair: No, the Committee is not saying that, although we have become very Frontex-focused and have been monitoring them very carefully.
Damian Green: I observed.
Q117 Michael Ellis: Having said that, can we move on from Frontex for a moment? I am sure you will agree, Minister, that the Home Office and the UK Border Agency need to learn lessons from previous accessions. How much work have the Home Office and UK Border Agency done to evaluate the lessons from these previous accessions and what do you think the key lessons are?
Damian Green: The key lesson is that we should impose the transitional controls that are allowed in the accession treaties. That was the huge mistake in 2004 when the A8 countries came in and it was a mistake that was compounded by the fact that very few other countries made that mistake. The French, the Germans, the Spanish and Italians all decided to use the transitional controls. Britain didn’t, so we got into the notorious situation where we were told that 13,000 Poles would come and 750,000 did, so we have learnt that lesson and have made it clear that under any future accession treaty we will apply the transitional controls that will be allowed.
Q118 Michael Ellis: Under the A8 accession, as you say 13,000. A previous witness at this Committee said that was ridiculous as an estimate. Do you agree that it was a ridiculous estimate and wildly inaccurate, almost to the point of absurdity?
Damian Green: Facts tell us it was wildly inaccurate, but I have seen the literature associated with this and the people who prepared that estimate make the point that it wasn’t an estimate made when they knew that the British Government would say, "We’re opening our doors completely from day one" and every other major western European economy would take a different view. I don’t want to criticise the people who made the estimate because they may well not have made it on the basis of the facts that subsequently made it wrong.
Q119 Lorraine Fullbrook: Minister, I would like to ask, just following on from that, if Turkey was to accede to the EU now what would be the extent of the scale of migration? What would you anticipate the scale to be?
Damian Green: We haven’t done that assessment and it would be impossible to make any kind of realistic assessment at the moment because we don’t know any of the basic facts. We don’t know what the accession treaty would allow in terms of a transitional period. We don’t know where, if it happened, Turks would prefer to go-they have obviously got a greater historic relationship with Germany than with this country-and perhaps most counter-intuitively for a British audience, if you like, you have to look at the way the Turkish economy is going. Turkey’s economy is growing at the same sort of rate as those of China and India. By 2017 I have seen suggestions that the Turkish economy will be growing faster than the Indian economy. The Turks’ own ambition is to have their economy as one of the 10 biggest in the world by 2023. Given all the uncertainties, particularly about the length of time it might take before a single Turk came into Europe under free movement, it really is impossible to put any sensible number on it at the moment.
Q120 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can I ask, Minister, the UK has made a commitment to, and I quote, "Apply effective transitional controls as a matter of course to all new Member States". What does "effective" mean in this context?
Damian Green: It means controls that work and I think the key point is that we have applied, as a country, the transitional controls to the A2 countries-to Romania and Bulgaria-and by and large they have been pretty effective. We would want to at least replicate that and I think the point that often gets lost in these discussions, which is key, is that each accession treaty is different. So we are not simply saying we would have the same rules for either Croatia-which would come in clearly long before Turkey-or Turkey than we had for Romania or Bulgaria or that we could have had for Poland and the other A8 countries. There will be a new treaty that will need to be negotiated and that treaty will contain specific transitional arrangements for Turkey.
Q121 Dr Huppert: Minister, you have raised a question, in my mind at least. Last week we were talking about student visas and the benefits Britain gets from having people coming here, becoming proficient in English and getting to understand Britain well, and I don’t want to press you on student visas right now. Have we done any assessment on whether Britain and British companies, for example, have gained benefits from having good connections with the Eastern European countries; people who spoke English and knew how the system worked from having worked here for a while? If Turkey is going to be one of the 10 largest economies, do you think that now we would like to encourage a good flow so that there are people there who are interested in doing business with Britain?
Damian Green: We already have good trading links with Turkey and we run an efficient visa system so that we specifically try already to improve not just our relations with Turkey but specifically our business relations with Turkey. Clearly, as I say, we are talking very long term before any prospect of Turkey’s accession but the work we are doing now to improve those relations will, I am sure, have benefit in the long run.
If the Committee wants the actual figures, the number of business visits, the applications we received, were 16,859 of which nearly 96% were issued. Of student visits there were 7,743 applications received of which 82% were issued.
Chair: On that point, while we were in Ankara the Ambassador and others, including members of the Turkish Parliament, had raised with us the issue of visas for Members of Parliament. I won’t raise this with you now in great detail but I will, if I may, write to you with the details for you to have a look at because I think there was a feeling that this would be of great benefit in terms of interaction between our two Parliaments. I don’t expect an answer now but I will write to you on it.
Q122 Bridget Phillipson: Minister, how, if at all, have previous enlargements affected organised crime in the UK, both in terms of its extent and the structures? SOCA appear to suggest that their experiences have been positive and they feel that there could be benefits. Would you share that view?
Damian Green: Clearly the more open borders become then the more opportunities there are for organised crime, so the better we have to get at our international connections. I am interested in what SOCA has to say, because clearly there are always new challenges. It is one of the reasons we are setting up the National Crime Agency, one of whose arms will be specifically the border command so that we could become much more effective and much more joined up in combating cross-border crime, and also separately, organised crime more widely, because it is increasingly the case if you are talking about serious and organised crime these days you are talking about international crime so you have to have an international focus on fighting it.
One of the problems there has been in the past has been that different arms of British law enforcement and different arms of the British State have been doing perfectly good jobs but they have not being properly joined up. What we really want to do over the next few years is make sure that all our efforts are much more efficiently joined up because it is going to be an increasing problem.
Q123 Bridget Phillipson: While we were in Turkey we heard from the Turkish authorities about the efforts that they are making to combat human trafficking. The International Organisation for Migration has suggested that Turkish accession to the EU wouldn’t have an impact on human trafficking in terms of an increase. Do you have any views on that?
Damian Green: I was interested and I had seen that the IOM had said that, and looking at the figures one can see that there isn’t any evidence really that Turkey is a source country for trafficking. I can remember there was only one I think, literally. In the National Referral Mechanism in the last year there were just over 1,000 people had been referred to that, of whom only one was Turkish. Even if you think Turkey is clearly a transit country potentially for trafficking, and Iran is a source country for victims of trafficking, and even then I think only two of the people referred to the National Referral Mechanism were Iranian. So I suspect, on the evidence, that the IOM is correct.
Q124 Mr Winnick: As far as terrorism is concerned, Minister, do you see any particular difficulties, should Turkey join the EU, arising from terrorist action or activities in Turkey over the years?
Damian Green: The current best assessment we have is that there is very little direct threat to the UK from indigenous terrorist groups in Turkey. Clearly there has been a problem for Turkey with terrorism and the attacks so far have been directed at Turkey’s official targets, and in particular military targets. Obviously where there is terrorism anywhere in the world there is a possibility either of British interests or British citizens being caught up in it but that seems to be the focus of the terrorist activity. Turkey is an important partner for Britain in fighting terrorism and as a country we have encouraged the EU to take a more helpful stance towards helping Turkey in tackling its own problems with terrorism in Europe.
Q125 Mr Winnick: When the tragedy occurred of the terrorist attack on the British Consulate offices in Istanbul and the Consul-General was murdered, would it not be correct to say that not only were the Turkish population as a whole horrified by what occurred but there was the fullest possible co-operation by the Turkish authorities in condemning and bringing the culprits to justice?
Damian Green: Yes, absolutely. As I say, Turkey is an important partner for Britain in fighting terrorism and, sadly, we each bring our own experience to the table. It is very important for both countries that we continue to have that partnership and indeed, just as the British people, the Turkish people have been victims of terrorism in the past. We have a good deal of empathy as well as practical co-operation.
Q126 Mr Winnick: Insofar as the present government in Turkey has been described, perhaps by itself for all I know, as Islamist in attitude-Islamic rather than Islamist.
Damian Green: It is an important distinction.
Mr Winnick: Well there is, I think a very clear distinction. I think that terrorists are usually referred to as Islamist as opposed to Islamic, which is no less a legitimate religion than any other religion. But insofar as the government is somewhat different than previous governments, would it not be again correct to say that its attitude towards terrorism, in combating terrorism, is no less than previous administrations?
Damian Green: Yes, I think that is right. We don’t observe that there has been any fall off in co-operation in fighting terrorism and we have good relationships with Turkey. It was one of the first places the Prime Minister went to visit. We signed the strategic agreement with Turkey last summer and obviously it is very important that we maintain those good relations, and counterterrorism is an important part of why it is important to maintain those good relations.
Mr Winnick: Thank you.
Philip Rushbrook: I just wanted to point out that Turkey has been extremely active in tackling some threats from Al-Qaeda, so it is actually a proactive stance they are taking.
Q127 Lorraine Fullbrook: I think that probably goes to my question. As well as the PKK obviously in Turkey, the Turkish authorities have told us on our visit that they were increasingly seeing organised crime, particularly drug smuggling, come in from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, which was funding terrorism outside Turkey.
Philip Rushbrook: Yes, we are aware that funding from drug dealing can find its way back to terrorist groups or sympathiser terrorist groups. The work we are dealing with in Turkey is to tackle the flow of heroin through the country. The more activities that we can work with with the Turkish authorities, with whom we have excellent relations, the more drugs fail to reach the streets, therefore we are tackling the potential fundraising activities.
Q128 Lorraine Fullbrook: Are you only dealing with heroin in this case, because there has been a substantial increase in cocaine trading through Turkey?
Philip Rushbrook: Certainly heroin is the largest in terms of volume travelling through. The World Drugs Report 2010 estimated in 2008 about 95 tonnes of heroin travels through Turkey, which Turkish authorities are tackling. At least about 15% to 20% of that is being seized by them. On cocaine, the flows are still much smaller but we are certainly monitoring it.
Q129 Mark Reckless: Minister, you spoke about the impressive growth in the Turkish economy, even comparing its potential to India, and the Committee saw that at first hand last week. Why would they want to put that at risk by joining the EU?
Damian Green: It may be that you and I have different views and there may be different views around the Committee table on the economic desirability of EU membership, which has certainly benefited this country and other countries, but where we would agree, I am sure, is that it is for the Turkish people to decide where lies their economic interest. They have clearly taken a decision, which is why they have applied for membership of the EU.
Q130 Mark Reckless: When we questioned their lead negotiator, he agreed, particularly to a question from Mr Clappison and the Chair, that it would indeed be a decision for the Turkish people and he specifically said that if there was significant opposition to EU membership it was essential that there should be a national referendum on the issue. When can we expect the UK Government to start taking that advice?
Damian Green: I think I shouldn’t interfere in Turkish domestic politics. As for a referendum in this country, I am sure that my honourable friend will support the EU Bill, which provides a triple lock, giving us protection from any transfer of power away from this country, and I look forward to joining him in the division lobby supporting that Bill in its remaining stages.
Q131 Mark Reckless: But as a Minister, are you happy that the Turkish people should have a vote on whether they should join, the French people should have a vote on whether Turkey should join, as they had a vote on us; shouldn’t the British people also have an opportunity?
Damian Green: As a Minister in the British Government, I feel very strongly that I should not lecture the Turkish people, or indeed the French people, about how they conduct their domestic politics.
Q132 Steve McCabe: Minister, there is no trick implied in this question at all, it is a straightforward question. I just want to know about the Readmission Agreement with the EU in Turkey. Obviously the Turks are not very happy about what is going on there. Can you tell us what the problem is and is there anything that can be done to move it along?
Damian Green: There are a number of problems on both sides. The agreements are meant to formalise reciprocal arrangements to document and remove illegal entrants. At the JHA Council two weeks ago, on 24 February, the council members noted that the Commission had an intention to initiate the overall dialogue on migration mobility and visas but with a caveat that the Commission acknowledge in a declaration that this doesn’t legally constitute a negotiating mandate.
To answer your question directly, Turkey has indicated that a declaration made by the EU about a potential visa discussion wouldn’t be sufficient for them to sign the agreement, so that is where the blockage is. Of course, I should make the point that Britain always makes at this point, which is that as we are not part of Schengen these negotiations wouldn’t directly affect our own domestic legislation or our own domestic visa system. It is clearly principally a matter for Schengen Member States.
Q133 Steve McCabe: Although there is obviously quite an interest about where some of the people end up who come through the Turkish routes, so I suppose it does concern us.
Damian Green: Absolutely. I am not saying we are not interested in it. Of course we have an interest; we don’t have a direct interest. One of the reasons why we are not part of Schengen is so we can continue to protect our own borders, so we can continue, for example, to employ biometrics in the use of visas and resident permits and so on, which Schengen Member States don’t currently have. We have a better system and a more secure system than they do at the moment.
Q134 Steve McCabe: You do not see any great progress there in the near future; is that fair?
Damian Green: I see no evidence; it would clearly, in a sense, be desirable that would happen but, as I say, at the moment the immediate objection and block has come from the Turkish Government itself.
Q135 Steve McCabe: Let me ask you something slightly different. The view of a lot of people I came across in a recent visit in Turkey was that they are doing quite a lot that does benefit us-and I think listening to your evidence this morning that is your view as well- action on the borders, narcotics, trafficking, quite a lot of helpful things, and yet they have a problem with a visa if they want to come to this country, which can range from a visitor’s visa to almost any kind of access issue. Why don’t we acknowledge that Turkey is actually a major partner as far as we are concerned in co-operating on our borders and helping us with trafficking and narcotics? Why don’t we do something to relax the visa arrangements between genuine Turkish visitors, which are a source of problem in our relations with them at the moment?
Damian Green: Turkey is indeed an important trade partner, and an increasingly important trade partner, and just as with many other countries around the world what our visa policy has to do is strike the right balance between keeping our borders secure and enabling efficient and relatively easy trade with friendly, important countries like Turkey. That is what we try to do and what we have succeeded in doing is improving the service standard so that people don’t have to wait too long to have a visa issued. It is delays that, in the end - experience is teaching me - people really care about and we are working very hard at reducing the delays.
Going further than that, we are introducing general visa waivers, as we do have for a number of countries. Under the previous Government there was a global review, a visa waiver test, in 2007 measuring the full range of criteria and in Turkey’s case there were concerns about immigration abuse, about asylum claims, about criminality. We will return to the global visa waiver test at some stage in the coming years and those countries that have improved their performance will no doubt have a better chance of passing that visa waiver test. It is clearly a very significant step for our national security to declare to a country that we no longer need visas from there. It does make a big difference.
Q136 Steve McCabe: Minister, do you share my kind of frustration that I could be a bandit from Bulgaria and I would find it relatively easy to walk into this country, but I could be one of the deputy chiefs of the narcotics squad that is helping stop the heroin get into this country and if I wanted to come here for a weekend shopping trip it would be immensely difficult? That just seems wrong and unfair.
Damian Green: I don’t think it would be immensely difficult. I take the point, but that is precisely why I say what we want to do is to make our provision of visas as efficient and smooth as possible and we are taking a huge number of steps to do that: more online applications, mobile collection of biometrics and so on. It is a very important thing for our relations around the world, not just for Turkey, so that people know that we are trying hard to make our visa system as friendly and efficient as is consonant with national security, and we are working very hard on that in Turkey.
Q137 Michael Ellis: Minister, further to Mr McCabe’s point, from your evidence today is it fair to characterise your assessment of the whole situation as regards Turkey, they are working extremely closely with us, excellent partners, further integration and co-operation would be very much in our mutual interests? Is it also fair to say that Her Majesty’s Government have to take into consideration, when it comes to things like the visa waiver programme, the internal record-keeping, the internal visa situation within Turkey, their own control of their borders as it relates to their own situation? Is that something that you would take into consideration along with abuse of the system and criminality and the like?
Damian Green: Yes. As I say, the visa waiver test seeks to be as all-embracing as possible because it is such a significant decision. For example, Turkey itself has visa waiver, visa exemptions with countries that include Libya and the Lebanon. I take the point that Mr McCabe was making but clearly I have to balance all these arguments and there are significant arguments the other way.
Q138 Chair: Minister, as you are before us, have you had an opportunity to look at the judgement of the case against Andrew Waldron, which concerns not your administration but the previous administration, where a senior official has been put on trial for fraud in awarding contracts by the Home Office?
Damian Green I haven’t read the judgement in detail.
Q139 Chair: The judgement is by Mr Justice Orme. I think it has just been handed down and he says, "To think that a public organisation can conduct itself in this way is deeply worrying." Has there been any follow-up to the judgement as far as you are aware?
Damian Green: There will be. Clearly any judgement that talks about the internal organisation of the UKBA concerns me hugely and, as you say, this was an event that happened some years ago so obviously improvements have been made but there is always room for more improvement.
Q140 Chair: It concerns the contracts for those who are kept in asylum. I will write to you about that. Secondly, do we have any progress in filling Lin Homer’s very large shoes?
Damian Green: Adverts are in the throes of being produced and we will be making progress.
Q141 Chair: Do you know whether the Committee’s recommendation that the salary should be reduced has been accepted, or is it still at over £200,000?
Damian Green: It will be to some extent a different job. So I think if you can bear to patient for a few days longer, Mr Chairman, we will see.
Q142 Chair: For a few days longer? You will advertise in a few days or you will appoint in a few days?
Damian Green: The plan is to advertise shortly.
Q143 Mr Winnick: The question of the appointment to a body that is so important-whatever views one takes on immigration and the rest of it, the importance of UKBA is not in dispute. What I asking you, Minister, is that, prior to confirmation will this Committee have the opportunity of seeing the person who is being recommended by the Government for the job so that we can ask her questions prior to her being appointed?
Damian Green: Him or her. Just for once, let’s be fair the other way. It is not a given that the head of the UKBA has to be female, although clearly since both the Home Secretary and the Permanent Secretary of the Department are already female there are issues of balance here. Let me take that away and discuss it with the Home Secretary, I think would be sensible.
Mr Winnick: Will you write to us?
Chair: The Minister has said he will take it away and discuss it with the Home Secretary. I am sure he will write to us.
Q144 Alun Michael: Could I ask the question: given the evidence that we were given successively from different people in Government that the salary level was essentially in order to ensure that the right person was in the job, does it, firstly, give you some concern that it clearly didn’t succeed in keeping the individual in the job and, secondly, call in question the speed with which people can leave an essential role in order to flit to another?
Damian Green: I think the first point is just completely wrong. Lin Homer was head of the UK Border Agency for more than five years, and that is a reasonable amount of time to do any type of job like that. Indeed, she moved on to become Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport, which is clearly a hugely important job. Indeed, I pointed out to her that in Foreign Office terms she was moving from one hardship post into another, which I thought was brave of her.
Q145 Chair: I am resisting asking any more questions on this. Mr McCabe, you will have to wait. Maybe when the Minister replies to us we will have the chance to take this further.
One final issue about the student visas. As you know, the Committee has completed its examination of this subject. We are very grateful for what the Home Secretary has said that she is awaiting the outcome of the Select Committee’s report, which we hope to have in the near future. Members of the Committee obviously will have to consider it. You don’t as yet have a date for announcement, do you?
Damian Green: No.
Q146 Chair: So you would be happy to wait for our report?
Damian Green: I can’t guarantee that. We are going to make the announcement in the near future so I hope your near future is shorter than our near future.
Chair: We will be publishing it in the near future. Given what the Minister said about the Select Committee questions yesterday and how helpful you find our reports, we hope to publish very shortly, just so that you know.
Damian Green: I look forward to it.
Chair: Minister, Mr Rushbrook, Mr Moody, thank you very much for coming today.
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