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Efficient migration management at the forefront of ministers' discussion in Luxembourg

On 12 October 2018, Minister of the Interior, Boštjan Poklukar, attended the JHA Council held in Luxembourg. The main topic of discussion was efficient migration management. Minister Poklukar focused in particular on the following three topics: the Commission's proposal to strengthen the mandate of the European border and coast guard (EBCG), efficient return policy and the migration situation in Slovenia and the region.

Slovenia continues to support the efficient control and enhanced protection of the EU's external borders. »The Commission's proposal to strengthen the mandate of the EBCG is a step in the right direction,« said the minister who also conveyed Slovenia's concerns regarding the absence of the criteria as regards the number of staff that each country is to contribute to the agency’s permanent composition, the executive powers of the corps, the financing of training, employment, secondment, as well as the unrealistic timeframe needed to fully establish the corps (by 2020).


Other countries, including France, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland and all the states from Slovenia's neighbourhood, expressed similar concerns. The reinforcement of the European border and coast guard has received support from the majority of ministers, however, the composition and the mandate of EBCG corps remain uncharted territory. »Several member states are unsure about the huge size of the corps and their capability to actually stem illegal migration. The main concern is that the composition of the corps will exhaust the national capacities of the states to efficiently control their own borders.«


The ministers discussed the proposal reforming the return directive. Slovenia continues to emphasize that effective returns are crucial for an efficient and comprehensive migration management policy. »I pointed out that the Commission should be more ambitious as regards the mutual recognition of return decisions. I invited the ministers to take the opportunity and begin a discussion on how to meet this goal,« noted minister Poklukar. The minister welcomed the proposal to introduce the obligation to cooperate for persons subject to a return procedure, as well as accelerated border procedures, a restriction on repeat filing of legal remedies, and clear rules as regards the determination of the risk of absconding in return procedures. “The ministers took a uniform position on the fact that the EU needs a more effective return policy. I agree with the comments that apart from improving EU procedures we should also make sure that third countries cooperate in the readmission of their citizens,” noted the minister.


Over the working lunch, the minister presented the current migration situation in Slovenia. Over 6600 illegal crossings of the state border were recorded and over 2300 applications for international protection were received. »The situation in Slovenia is stable and entirely under control. I presented the situation on the Western Balkan route which, unfortunately, is not improving. The situation is most worrying in Bosnia and Herzegovina where it is getting worse despite the efforts of the European Commission,« said minister Poklukar.


In the afternoon, the ministers talked about the asylum system reform. Slovenia's position is that solidarity is the pillar of migration management and the asylum system. We need to remain aware that solidarity goes hand in hand with responsibility. As we go along, we should not forget the main goals of the reform of the Common European Asylum System and Resettlement, i.e. quick access to procedures for international protection by applicants and deciding on the substance of applications by a clearly defined member state. It is crucial for Slovenia to have mechanisms available at the EU level that will enable quick and efficient asylum procedures in crisis situations. There is currently no such mechanism in place in the EU. This is the only way we can truly help those in need of international protection.


On the sidelines of the meeting, minister Poklukar talked to the European Commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos, and a few other fellow ministers.