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President of the JHA Council, Dragutin Mate, to report to the European Parliament LIBE Committee on the Ministerial Conference on External Border Management and EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Meeting

Dragutin Mate, Slovenian Minister of the Interior and President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU, will attend a meeting of the Committee of the European Parliament on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee) in Brussels on 27 March 2008 to report on the results of discussions at the Ministerial Conference on the Challenges of EU External Border Management and the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Troika Meeting, which took place at Brdo from 11 to13 March 2008.

The Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council undertook in its programme to regularly inform the European Parliament on its work. This is especially important in the light of the potential entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, which will give the European Parliament competences in the entire area of justice and home affairs and will make it actively involved in co-decision procedures with the EU Council.

The ministerial conference featured the first discussion of the European Commission's communications on possible EU policy trends in this field, issued in February. The debate indicated that it was possible and necessary to strengthen the role of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (FRONTEX) within the framework of the existing mandate, while in the long term, integrated border management will have to be developed in full respect of human rights and according to the principle of burden sharing and solidarity. The discussion on the development and possible application of new technologies to prevent undesired access to the EU showed that their introduction in the future seems very likely. However, the introduction of new technologies should neither totally replace the human factor in carrying out border control nor prevent the facilitation of passenger flow at all types of borders. The discussion on setting up the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) revealed that the Member States were in favour of the EUROSUR project and supported the idea of carrying out a study regarding the key elements of EUROSUR.

This process will require existing instruments to be amended and new ones to be adopted; therefore, it is very important for the European Parliament to be kept informed of the procedure from the very beginning.

At the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Troika Meeting the discussion focused on changes in visa legislation in the USA and included other topics in the area of terrorism, migration, visa policy and the fight against crime in the Western Balkans. In these debates the Slovenian Presidency represented EU interests and will inform the European Parliament of the results. 

Representatives of the EU and USA agreed that the talks on a visa-free regime should be continued and that their common goal was to ensure safe visa-free travel between the EU Member States and the USA in line with applicable laws. They decided on a twin-track approach in the process of concluding memorandums of understanding and implementation agreements on the visa-waiver programme. Matters that fall within national responsibilities will be discussed with national authorities, while those that fall within the EU's responsibility will be discussed with EU authorities.

The USA will share further details with the EU on ETA implementation. These discussions are to be completed by June 2008. The ETA will be applied consistently to all EU Member States and will be coordinated with the future system of the EU.


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Date: 21.03.2008