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President of JHA Council Dragutin Mate Presents Conclusions of Ministerial Conference and EU-US JHA Troika to the European Parliament

photo: EP

Dragutin Mate, Slovenian Minister of the Interior and President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU, presented today the conclusions of the Ministerial conference on the challenges of the EU external border management and the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Troika, held at Brdo from 11 to 13 March 2008, to the European Parliament LIBE Committee in Brussels, and answered MEPs' questions. According to Minister Mate, the main topic of the conference was "how to develop a technology-supported system of border surveillance in the future. The key goals are effective border control in order to prevent illegal immigration, fast and efficient passenger checks to ensure accessibility and openness of the Union, and the possibility of control over foreigners who enter the European Union legally and then overstay their visas. The topics discussed at the ministerial conference are extremely important for further identification of ways to improve external border management of the EU."

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. During the last part of the conference Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Michael Mukasey, Attorney General, presented the experience of the USA in the field of the surveillance of external borders and passenger checks.

“In my opinion, we can be very happy with the outcome of discussions at the ministerial conference, as it was clear that the Member States support the implementation of ideas which, given adequate technological support, will make the EU a true area of security and freedom, enabling it to remain the leading tourist destination in the world and to increase its economic growth every year,” said Minister Mate. The Slovenian Presidency is already drawing up conclusions based on the discussion at the ministerial conference, including the orientations for further activities in this area, to be adopted at the JHA Council Meeting in June.

Minister Mate continued by presenting the conclusions of the justice and home affairs ministerial troika meeting with representatives of the United States of America. “I estimate that great progress was made at the meeting, as we came to an arrangement with the highest representatives of the U.S. administration on how to pursue discussions on issues concerning a visa-free regime."

The common goal of the EU and the U.S. is to achieve safe visa-free travel between the EU Member States and the U.S., in full compliance with applicable laws. The representatives of the U.S. agreed to follow a twin track approach in the procedure of concluding memoranda of understanding and implementing agreements regarding a visa-free regime. Matters that fall within national responsibilities will be discussed with national authorities, while those that fall within EU responsibilities will be discussed with EU authorities. The U.S will share further details with the EU on the ETA system. Discussions on this topic are to be concluded by June 2008. The ETA system will be applied consistently to all EU Member States and will be coordinated with the EU’s future system.


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Date: 28.03.2008