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Ministerial Meeting of the Salzburg Forum on migration and the future of European home affairs policy

State Secretary Zvonko Zinrajh attended the Ministerial Meeting of the Salzburg Forum, which is composed of the ministers of the interior of Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. At the traditional meeting, which was held on 15 and 16 May 2008 in Prague, the ministers discussed the future of European home affairs policy, the French initiative on a future EU migration pact, the external dimension of the Salzburg Forum, future steps in preventing road traffic accidents and remedying their consequences, and the future of the Schengen system. At the conclusion of the meeting, the presiding country of the Salzburg Forum, the Czech Republic, presented the priorities of its EU Council Presidency, while the ministers also discussed the conclusions and recommendations of the working parties operating within the Salzburg Forum.

Future home affairs policy is currently determined by the Hague Programme, which will end in 2010. This is why the European Commission is already drawing up the proposal for a new programme, which will set out future policy in this field between 2010 and 2014. The programme will be presented in the first half of 2009. State Secretary Zinrajh emphasised: “This will be a very important document defining the priorities and directions of the operation of EU institutions and the Member States, which is why we have discussed the contents of such a document at all levels during the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies. Moreover, future policy is being dealt with intensively by the High-Level Advisory Group on the Future of European Home Affairs Policy (Future Group).” The Future Group’s purpose is to collect ideas that may be used by the European Commission in drawing up the programme but are not binding on the Commission. In this context, Slovenia organised a meeting of the Future Group on 1 April 2008 at Brdo pri Kranju, presenting its active role in discussions concerning future home affairs policy.

At the meeting, the ministers took note of the initiative on drawing up a European pact on migration and asylum, which will be presented by France during its EU Council Presidency. The pact should represent a step forward towards the creation of a common policy approach to migration and asylum at the Community level, and an attempt to remove the reasons underlying illegal migration by promoting development in the countries of origin and transit.

One of the main areas of action by the Salzburg Forum is the external dimension. Thus far, attention has mainly been placed on the Western Balkan region, which is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency. The ministers agreed that cooperation with other regions bordering on the Salzburg Forum countries should be reinforced as well. “Slovenia supports strengthening cooperation with other regions within the existing EU mechanisms and programmes in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and the provision of assistance to those countries in their application of the Global Approach to Migration in the Eastern and South Eastern Regions, put forward by the European Commission in 2007,” said State Secretary Zinrajh. For the meeting, the Czech Republic also prepared a discussion paper on road traffic security, which represents one of the most pressing problems of all the Salzburg Forum countries. This is why a working party on road traffic safety was established, composed of experts from all the Forum members. The purpose of the working party is to exchange good practice and experience in preventing and dealing with the consequences of road traffic accidents.

The ministers exchanged their experiences related to the Schengen area, as all the Salzburg Forum countries except Austria, Bulgaria and Romania recently entered the Schengen area. The meeting concluded with a discussion on the development and implementation of the second-generation Schengen information system (SIS II) and on the potential for further enlargement of the Schengen area.


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Date: 16.05.2008