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Council of the EU focuses primarily on Central Mediterranean Route

On Thursday 6 July, 2017, State Secretary Andrej Špenga attended the informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers held in Tallinn, Estonia.

Over the morning session, the ministers focused their discussions around the pressing migration situation in Italy which also called for greater collective support from other EU member states. They also talked about strengthened cooperation with Libya and a new code of conduct for NGOs involved in Search and Rescue activities (SAR) in the Mediterranean. The ministers were unanimous that the situation in Italy was very concerning and that action was needed to bring irregular migration under control. Some steps have already been taken with respect to a new Partnership Framework concluded with the five priority countries, closer cooperation with the north-African countries, in particular Libya, and an action plan in support of Italy presented by the EU Commission the day before. The outcomes of the Partnership Framework have varied depending on the country in question; for instance, the engagement with Niger is a quite a success compared to much poorer outcomes concerning other countries. To this end, the ministers agreed that the EU should continue implementing these activities while stepping up work to achieve better progress in return and readmission.


In the continuation of the meeting proposals were tabled such as the setting up of reception centres on Libya's southern borders, enhanced cooperation with the states bordering Libya in order to bring migratory pressure under control and fight crime more successfully, and the launching of a mission in the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The European Commission and foreign affairs services will study these proposals and include them in the EU response policy. State Secretary Špenga confirmed Slovenia's awareness of the pressing situation in Italy and stressed the fact that Slovenia is ready to support Italy within its capacities. State Secretary Špenga welcomed the reaction of the European Commission in preparing a special action plan in support of Italy and a code of conduct for NGOs.


The ministers then shortly discussed the issue of efficient solidarity and agreed to develop this debate further in autumn as suggested by the Estonian Presidency.


The ministers also talked about the progress achieved in the exchange and management of information, including interoperability in the justice and home affairs sector. State Secretary Špenga underlined the importance of continued efforts to achieve the interoperability of information systems and extending it to a context wider than just the security sector. "Interoperability should serve as a tool in achieving EU justice and home affairs policy goals, including those in the area of migration management."


Over lunch, the ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine and the EU's efforts to enhance the partnership with Ukraine in the field of security and migration management. State Secretary also stressed the need to work closely with Ukraine at the operational level in addressing illicit trade in weapons and explosives, in particular within the framework of the Operational Action Plan regarding firearms and that of the European Firearms Experts (EFE) programme.