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25.03.2008

Meeting of the High-Level Advisory Group on the Future of European Home Affairs Policy (Future Group)

On 31 March and 1 April 2008, Dragutin Mate, Minister of the Interior and President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, will co-chair the Meeting of the High-Level Advisory Group on the Future of European Home Affairs Policy, which consists of the interior ministers of the current trio presidency, the interior ministers of the upcoming trio presidency and one minister of the subsequent trio presidency from early 2010 to June 2011.

The Future Group was set up in February 2007 by the interior ministers of the European Union Member States to draft recommendations on future European home affairs policy starting in 2010, after the Hague Programme ends. During regular meetings of the group, the interior ministers, together with representatives of the European Commission and the EU Council General Secretariat, discuss various aspects of European home affairs policy and its possible future orientations. This time, the topics of the meeting will be future asylum policy at the EU level, integration and future police cooperation.

At the EU level, implementation of the legal instruments of the first phase of the Common European Asylum System, whose objective is to establish a common procedure and conditions for granting asylum in the Member States, is currently underway. Although the first phase should be concluded by 2010, i.e. by the end of the Hague Programme, a Common European Asylum System will not yet be in place, since all measures and procedures will still be under the competence of the Member States. The European Support Office, which received backing from the Member States at the January Informal Meeting of Ministers at Brdo pri Kranju, will only coordinate the cooperation between countries in exchanging data on asylum seekers. Comprehensive evaluation of the existing instruments and measures within the Common European Asylum System and their improvement and reform will represent a very important part of future asylum policy. Furthermore, future asylum policy will increasingly be part of the global approach to migration, as it should be slowly transferred to the EU level, while the role of the European Support Office should be strengthened.

In recent years, great progress has been achieved in the area of police cooperation. CEPOL (European Police College) was established to train police officers of the Member States, and strengthened cooperation is taking place between police forces based on concluded bilateral and multilateral agreements; Europol will shortly become a European Agency, which will further strengthen its role, while we are witnessing the introduction of new technologies into police work. In future police cooperation, such efforts will be upgraded while also placing an emphasis on enhanced police officer training and education with a view to more effectively facing new types of crime, strengthened cross-border and other cooperation between police forces, and participation in joint missions, which will further increase the efficiency of police work.

Integration represents one of the recent instruments of EU policy. While such measures used to be taken by the Member States themselves, there has now been an initiative to coordinate integration policies at the EU level, especially through the exchange of experience and good practice. The migration phenomenon faced by the EU in recent years requires a global approach, which should consist not only of measures to prevent the entry and return of persons entering the EU illegally, but also measures to enable legal immigrants to stay and work in the Member States. As regards integration of immigrants, the measures taken by the Member States vary a great deal, while experience in this context has shown that effective integration represents an opportunity not only for immigrants but also for the Member States and the EU as a whole. Moreover, it can play an important part in security policy, which is why integration will deserve more attention within the framework of EU policy after 2010. The guest of honour at the meeting in Slovenia will be the Austrian Federal Minister of the Interior, G√ľnther Platter, who will give an opening address on the topic of integration.

The outcome of the discussion at the meeting of the group will feed into a report to serve as a source of ideas for the European Commission in drafting a proposal on future home affairs policy. During the Slovenian Presidency, one more meeting of the ministers within the framework of the Future Group is envisaged. The final report will be presented at the Informal JHA Council under the French Presidency.

 

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Date: 25.03.2008