The action plan was presented by EU Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner following a discussion at the Commission's weekly meeting. It was drawn up in response to a series of migration and/or humanitarian crises in the Mediterranean in recent months in places like Ceuta, Melilla, Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa. Mr Frattini embarked on a tour of European capitals on October 27 to see what could be done to tackle the problem. His proposed solutions will be presented to EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on December 1. The Commissioner is also putting the final touches to an action plan on legal migration, which should be adopted on December 21.

"There is no quick-fix solution to this problem", Mrs Ferrero-Waldner told journalists, adding that this was the first time the EU had come forward with such a comprehensive approach. Commenting on the Commission's ongoing talks with Morocco for an agreement to readmit illegal immigrants, she said it would take "a few weeks or a few months" to successfully conclude the talks. She said talks could not yet begin on readmission agreements with sub-Saharan countries (from where most of the immigrants originate) because the Commission had not received a mandate. Mr Frattini added that the Libyan Foreign Minister had pledged to start cooperating closely with the EU on migration management in early 2006.

Mediterranean focus.

Probably the most innovative idea in the Communication is the joint coastal patrols network, a feasibility study which will be launched in 2006. The network would involve border-control authorities and search and rescue services. As it will take some time before the network can be up and running, the Commission wants the EU's Warsaw-based border management agency FRONTEX to organise pilot projects in the meantime. The Commission seems favourably disposed to eventually transforming the network into a permanent structure but has so far steered clear of using the politically-sensitive term 'EU border guard'. Any move to create an autonomous EU border police would probably meet stiff resistance from those member states who are anxious to avoid further erosions of national sovereignty.

The Commission intends...

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