Interviewed by journalists from several European publications, among them Europolitics, German Home Affairs Minister Wolfgang Schauble and Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries set out some of the priorities of the German EU Presidency, particularly on immigration and combating racism.
For Home Affairs Minister Wolfgang Schauble, it is quite clear that, generally speaking, "Europe will only progress if it makes room for more security and not less". This will require "a system enabling us to share information" on police matters and on illegal immigration. "That takes negotiation with the countries of origin and transit."
YES TO HEADSCARVES, NO TO BURKAS
On the integration of immigrants, the determination of the Christian Democrat (CDU) minister contrasts sharply with the attitude of his predecessors. Of course, "immigration can be seen as positive or negative. But (today), it is a reality in the globalised world, a reality that will increase in the future. Immigration is an opportunity. I am personally convinced that citizens want to know other peoples," he explained. "It is our duty to integrate [legal] immigrants". Integration also involves "access to the labour market. But we believe that it is the competence of each member state to determine arrangements for access to that market."
Taking the opposite view of many of his fellow European ministers, he advocates ongoing dialogue with Islam. "We want to hold talks with Islam, not only at international level but also at European level. We want the Muslim community to feel at home in Europe. Muslims must have the same rights as the other religions. That means that they accept the rules and fundamental rights of our society and that Muslim organisations cooperate on security. We are convinced that no one is suspect because he is Muslim. But they must really cooperate" in the counter-terrorism effort. The minister also wants to encourage the training of European imams who speak the language of the country and "are trained in our universities".
On the sensitive issue of headscarves, Wolfgang Schauble said he thought that politicians should not get too involved. On the other hand, he voiced clear opposition to burkas. "When you can...