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NEWS

Ministers in Luxemburg focus on migration and police cooperation  

On 7 June 2019, Minister of the Interior Boštjan Poklukar attended the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg. The Ministers focused on the future development of the EU police cooperation, and discussed migration and asylum. This meeting marked the beginning of the process of drafting strategic guidelines for the next five-year period; the guidelines are expected to be finalised early next year.  

As regards the future development of police cooperation, the Romanian Presidency drew up a document aimed at guaranteeing an even higher level of security in the EU. High level of security is one of the conditions for providing European citizens with a common space of freedom, security and justice without internal borders. The debate was closely linked to the reform of the Internal Security Strategy because its current version expires in 2020.

 

Minister Poklukar welcomed the opening of a debate on the guidelines for future cooperation: “We believe that the guidelines are a step in the right direction; we believe that targeted training, the establishment of a common innovation laboratory and the extension of the interoperability model are very good.” The minister highlighted three aspects that are crucial for Slovenia. First, there is a need to focus on the implementation of existing legislation and to carry out its evaluation prior to new proposals. Furthermore, it is essential to introduce a more strategic approach. This should also be used in the preparation of the new Internal Security Strategy. “I wish to bring to your attention the fact that the Ministers from the Salzburg Forum Member States discussed this last week and agreed that we need one internal security strategy that must be followed by concrete action plans with clear responsibilities, division of work and deadlines,” said the Minister. In the end, the Minister said that a proper, stable and sustainable way of financing is needed in order to successfully meet the objectives.

 

The debate showed that the Ministers were quite satisfied with the development of police cooperation in recent years. However, they emphasized that there will be a need for the EU to provide the necessary tools to respond adequately to the upcoming security challenges, such as cyber threats and the upcoming 5G network. They pointed out that Member States are facing a major challenge in the coming period as regards the implementation of interoperability, i.e. the EU’s interconnection of databases in the area of justice home affairs. They agreed that the EU’s home affairs agencies, in particular Europol and CEPOL, need to play a greater role in these future processes. They therefore unanimously supported an increase in the financial envelope for the functioning of these agencies in the next multiannual financial framework.

 

The afternoon discussion focused on future developments in the area of migration and asylum. The Ministers reiterated the need for a comprehensive and balanced approach allowing for effective and sustainable solutions. “I would like to refer to the institutional framework in which we work and take decisions. In my opinion, what seems to have been lacking in recent years, in particular since the 2015 and 2016 migration crises, is strategic planning and, consequently, the setting of key objectives to be pursued in addressing the challenges through adopting new legislative acts or reforming existing ones. In the negotiations, we often rely on compromises and this significantly reduces the added value of any new instrument.” With regard to the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), the Minister reiterated Slovenia’s position that the recast of legislative acts should aim at effective operation during a “normal” migration situation. However, crisis situations should be addressed in a specific legislative act based on existing tools (including the Temporary Protection Directive) and taking into account the experience of 2015 and 2016.

 

The Ministers also discussed the Return Directive, which, according to Poklukar, remains a weak spot in the integrated migration management. Therefore, Slovenia has consistently supported all initiatives that would improve the effectiveness of these policies at EU level. “After 10 years of experience with the current legal base, the proposed recast of the Return Directive provides an opportunity for us to make a decisive step towards genuine European solutions. These should facilitate return procedures and improve the rate of effective returns. Slovenia’s hope is to see a somewhat more ambitious outcome of the negotiations in the Council, especially when it comes to mutual recognition of return decisions and cooperation between Member States in realising such returns.”


At the end of the meeting, Minister Poklukar presented the conclusions of the Ministerial Meeting of the Salzburg Forum Member States, held in Portorož, on 28 May 2019. 

 

In the margins of the meeting, Minister Poklukar met with several colleagues from other countries, including Mr Wolfgang Peschorn, the new Federal Minister of Interior of Austria. He briefed him on his view of the border checks at internal borders, which are a disproportionate and unnecessary measure. Mr Poklukar pointed out that tailbacks at border crossing points, for instance at the Karavanke border crossing point, have a very negative impact, especially in the upcoming summer season. 


He also met Secretary of State for Interior of the Italian Republic, Nicola Molteni, on the subject of joint patrols, and State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia, Teresa Gras, on the matter of migration in the Western Balkans region.