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Minister Mate attends debate on providing security in the European Parliament

Slovenian Minister of Internal Affairs Dragutin Mate talks in front of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee of the European Parliament

Dragutin Mate, Slovenian Minister of the Interior and President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU, attended the annual debate on achievements in setting up the area of freedom, security and justice in 2007 in the European Parliament in Brussels today. In his speech, he pointed out that implementing policies in the area of justice and home affairs was extremely important, as "security has become one of the most important concerns of our citizens. Our goal is to ensure such conditions for cooperation between Member States which will guarantee an adequate level of security for our citizens."

He went on to say that significant progress had been achieved in recent years as regards cooperation between Member States in the area of terrorism, Europol and surveillance of external borders. New challenges included discussion of the Decision on converting Europol into a European agency and the transposition of the Treaty of PrĂ¼m into the European legislation. Both would represent, according to Minister Mate, "a qualitative leap forward in the fight against organised crime, as they would enhance the efficiency of detecting criminal organisations and speed up the exchange of data between national databases of DNA, fingerprints and number plates". As for instruments yet to be discussed, the Minister said that the Presidency was willing to cooperate closely with the Parliament on a case-by-case basis in the spirit of common responsibility for the adoption of these instruments.

Also under preparation are measures to prevent unwanted persons from entering the EU. They include accelerated development of the second generation of the Schengen Information System, to which the Minister has made a personal commitment, and the adoption of instruments that will enable use of the Visa Information System as soon as possible. In the field of external relations, there is intensive cooperation with the Western Balkan countries and Russia in preparing regional organised crime threat assessments.

As regards measures related to legal immigration policy, the minister stated that this month the Council Working Group started to discuss the proposal for a directive on highly qualified workers. In further discussion key political issues will be identified and the French Presidency will be provided with a rather clear picture.

As to the differences of opinion regarding the proposal for a directive on the return of illegally staying third-country nationals, the Presidency will continue to seek agreement with the Parliament, which will enable the directive to be adopted as soon as possible. The Minister pointed out that we must make sure that "this directive does not prolong return procedures, thus reducing the efficiency of our policies in the fight against illegal immigration". In strengthening dialogue with countries of origin and transit, the Council will continue to apply a global approach to migration, paying particular attention to Africa and eastern and south-eastern regions bordering the European Union. The Minister concluded by stating that the Council actively encourages Member States to contribute to the Centralised Record of Available Technical Equipment set up by the FRONTEX Agency, in order to enable future maritime patrolling at the southern external border.


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Date: 31.01.2008