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Slovenian Presidency achieves consensus on signing an EU-Australia airline passenger data agreement and re-establishes the ad hoc working group on information exchange

At today's meeting, the Slovenian Presidency reached consensus on the signing of an EU-Australia airline passenger data agreement, which will enable a reciprocal exchange of data on air passengers. Minister Mate called it one of the most important achievements of the Slovenian Presidency, which, based on the negotiation mandate adopted in February this year and with the Commission's assistance, held intense negotiations with the Australian authorities. The result is a draft agreement that includes strong security mechanisms for the protection of personal data on air passengers that Australia will obtain on the basis of this agreement. The signing of the agreement will be possible at one of the forthcoming Council meetings. The agreement is an important step towards closer cooperation between the EU and Australia in the area of justice and home affairs. The EU has already signed similar agreements with the USA and Canada.

Ministers of the interior also discussed the proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2003/109/EC to extend its scope to beneficiaries of international protection. Thus persons who have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection could obtain the status of long-term residents in a Member State after five years and could move freely all over the European Union. In June 2007 the European Commission initiated the legislative procedure for this directive proposal, and the discussions showed differences between the Member States, especially as regards the directive's scope of application. At the April Council the Slovenian Presidency obtained Member States' positions on the open issues, and at the same time Germany came up with a proposal that might resolve contentious issues. On this basis the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council prepared a compromise proposal. The discussion established that some Member States are not yet willing to grant the status of long-term residents in the EU to beneficiaries of international protection, which is why the directive proposal was not adopted.

The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator presented the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Terrorism, after which the ministers discussed the implementation of the EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy in the future. The Counter-Terrorism Coordinator underlined the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies as one of the key elements in the fight against terrorism. Given the need to consider some initiatives in the field of information exchange between law enforcement agencies, the Slovenian Presidency re-established the ad hoc working group on information exchange, whose first meeting will be held in late June, still under the Slovenian Presidency.

Furthermore, the ministers discussed the Report on the Implementation of the Strategy for the External Dimension of Justice and Home Affairs in the EU, which will set the basis for renewing the strategy, and took note of the outcome of the EU-Russia and EU-Ukraine meetings.


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Date: 05.06.2008