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EU-US Troika of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers

Presidents of the Justice and Home Affairs Council Dr Lovro Šturm, Slovenian Minister of Justice, and Dragutin Mate, Slovenian Minister of Home Affairs, will chair a meeting of justice and home affairs ministers of the EU with their US counterparts, which will be held on 13 March 2008 at Brdo pri Kranju.

In the area of justice, Dr Lovro Šturm will present the progress made as regards the ratification of agreements on mutual legal assistance and extradition, which were signed on 25 June 2003 in Washington. The agreements have not yet been ratified by all the EU Member States. As it is in the interest of both the United States and the European Union for these agreements to be ratified, the ratification process in the Member States is expected to continue at an increased pace.

Participants will discuss the amendments to the visa legislation in the US, according to which some Member States whose nationals need a visa to travel to the US, will be included into the Visa Waiver Programme, and the electronic system of issuing authorisations for EU nationals to enter the USA will be introduced. At its end-February meeting the JHA Council acquainted itself with the Presidency's proposal to adopt a common approach in the negotiations with the USA based on common guidelines on the inclusion in the programme. Based on an analysis of competences in this area, the Commission has already started preparing the mandate for the start of negotiations with the US. Representatives of the EU will present the latest achievements and plans for a global approach to migration.

The aim of the EU in the Western Balkans it to provide peace, stability and prosperity, with the final goal of integrating the Western Balkan countries into the Union. The European Union is endeavouring to strengthen the cooperation between the police forces of the Western Balkans in the fight against crime. It also wishes to bring the EU security standards to the Western Balkans, by means of the Organised Crime Threat Assessment for South-Eastern Europe (SEE OCTA), which the USA would also like to take part in. The discussion will also include the future of the SECI Center, which is active in the field of police and customs cooperation in South Eastern Europe, and visa liberalisation in the Western Balkans.

Participants will discuss the exchange of good practices in the field of terrorism as it remains one of the priority challenges of the EU. The only effective action against terrorist threat is to recognise and prevent a terrorist act in time. Participants will also discuss measures for CBRN risk reduction. The EU has prepared a green paper on the preparedness for biological threat, which should serve to promote discussion at the level of the EU and consultation on ways of reducing biological risks and stepping up preparedness and response.

At the close of the meeting, the French delegation will present the priorities of their presidency of the EU Council, which starts on 1 July 2008.


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Date: 08.03.2008