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Home affairs ministers meet in Luxemburg to discuss the reform of the Common European asylum system and migration

The Justice and Home Affairs Council was held in Luxembourg on 5 June 2018. The meeting was attended by Janez Lenarčič, the Permanent Representative of Slovenia, and Nina Gregori, Director General of the Internal Administrative Affairs, Migration and Naturalisation Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior. The main topics under discussion were migration and the asylum reform.

In the discussion focusing on the responsibility and solidarity within the context of the Common European asylum system, Slovenia stressed the importance of  the resilience of the new European asylum system to face any future crisis. To make the system operable we need to have in place a set of common rules in line with the Geneva Convention and the fundamental rights legal acts.  Slovenia expressed support for an early adoption of the legislative proposals believing that a reform of the Dublin system is absolutely necessary and that simplification and increased practical efficiency are needed. This is the only way forward to address situations in which the asylum systems of the member states are forced to respond to disproportionate migration. However, Slovenia believes there is no need to rush as this may affect the quality of new solutions. There has been some progress in the negotiations concerning the Dublin Regulation, but the right balance between responsibility and solidarity has still not been found.

 

In Slovenia’s view, the latest proposals for the change of the regulation create a permanent mechanism of migrant distribution across member states rather that set up a system of addressing crisis situations, which is unacceptable. The proposal to distribute persons who could only potentially qualify for international protection status cannot be accepted either. These issues, among many other reservations, were clearly expresses by many other home affairs ministers. As a result, the Bulgarian proposal was not accepted.  

 

Over lunch, the ministers discussed the state of play in migration. Slovenia pointed out the fact that migration flows are  swelling and already spilling over the external EU and the Schengen area borders. This year, Slovenia has already registered three times the number of illegal crossings compared to the same period last year and noted the same increase in the volume of applications for international protection.  

 

Increased protection of the external border of the EU is key to effective migration management. Slovenia encourages the states of the Western Balkan region as far as possible to act and to establish control of their borders and the movement of migrants across the borders.  These countries need to be assisted. In particular, the presence of Frontex is needed. The biggest issue of concern in the region is the misuse of applications for international protection. Migrants apply for international protection status only to avoid being sent back to the state where they came from.  This is a common problem in the EU as well. We believe that a solution should be sought at the EU level and in cooperation with the countries in the region, because all migrants and applicants enter the region from an EU state.  Other member states, too, have supported the urgency of taking action in the Western Balkans due to a worsening situation.  The European Commission, which is aware of the fragile situation, will organise a special meeting on 19 June 2018 bringing together home affairs ministers of six countries from the Western Balkans to talk about measures aimed at curbing migration.

 

Another important factor related to migration in the region is that of visa liberalisation introduced by Serbia a few moths ago. Slovenia has pointed this several times already.  Other member states, Europol and EEA states have stressed this issue, too. In this regard, we note that many nationals from the countries, which were involved in the visa liberalisation, attempt to illegally enter the European Union. Iraqi nationals currently represent the strongest group that does so. Serbia’s intention to lift the visa requirements for nationals of a few more third-countries is a cause of concern for Slovenia as it will have an adverse effect on the security situation in Slovenia.