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Ministers discuss PNR Directive, Western Balkans and migrations in Brussels

Minister of the Interior Vesna Györkös Žnidar attended a Justice and Home Affairs Council, which was held on 8 March in Brussels. The ministers exchanged views on the transposition of the directive on the use of passenger name record data (PNR) into national law of Member States.

According to the Minister, this is a very important tool for law enforcement authorities. Slovenia and its Ministry of the Interior have done a lot in this regard: the legal basis for processing and use of passenger name record data (PNR) has been put in the amended Police Tasks and Powers Act, which was adopted in February 2017. PNR data are already used on non-Schengen flights and on 14 March 2018 their use will begin also on internal EU flights. "PNR data are obtained from two carriers, Adria Airways and Turkish Airlines, soon we will add two more, which will cover most of the non-Schengen flights. I can say that these measures have yielded good tangible results. In just a few months we had very good results in the area of terrorism, trafficking in human beings and forged travel documents. We had almost 800 hits and identified three perpetrators of serious criminal offences. Other EU ministers also praise this system as an important tool which we agreed on with a very important goal in mind – to ensure security within the EU."

 

The ministers also discussed cooperation with the Western Balkans in the field of internal security and fight against terrorism. The Presidency noted that care should be taken to seek synergies and to prevent duplication. The Minister explained to colleagues that these were precisely the aims of the two initiatives set up by Slovenia in the Western Balkans: "They are the Western Balkans Counter-Terrorism Initiative and the Integrative Internal Security Governance. Next Friday a meeting of the Integrative Internal Security Governance committee will be held in Slovenia. Together with the ministers of the Western Balkan countries and other distinguished participants we will discuss and confirm action plans for the 2018–2020 period for all three areas of the initiative, i.e. fight against terrorism, fight against serious and organised crime and ensuring border security – also in light of today’s debate on the migration situation on the Western Balkan route."

 

During the last months Slovenia repeatedly warned that there was potentially a new illegal migration route through Bosnia and Herzegovina and that illegal migration trends in the region were unstable. The numbers are not alarming yet but they can easily change as the weather improves. The Ministry of the Interior is very active and we have  adopted numerous measures for monitoring the situation and managing any potential migration pressure at the external Schengen border. We pay attention to both illegal crossing of the border and associated criminal activities. 

 

The Minister stressed that we were aware of the responsibility we bear as a country positioned at the external Schengen border. Also for this reason comprehensive solutions on migration are of key importance at the EU level. "As you know the reform of the Common European Asylum System is at a standstill. Slovenia is very active in trying to resolve the issue and has proposed an effective solution, namely the exclusion of the crisis mechanism from the Dublin Regulation proposal. Crisis situations would be taken care of by means of the temporary protection mechanism. The countries or geographical region to which such an arrangement applied would be determined and protection would be limited to those persons who really need it. Also defined would be the number of persons member states would be take responsibility for, protection would be granted for a limited period only and the procedure would be quick, which, compared to the existing system and in case of a deterioration of the migration situation, would be an advantage" Györkös Žnidar said.

 

The Minister discussed this proposal with her Dutch counterpart bilaterally. She also expressed Slovenia’s disagreement with prolongation of internal border controls, which is problematic given that the Schengen area is regarded as one of the EU’s greatest achievements as well as being in the Republic of Slovenia’s strategic interest.