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Minister Hojs: In terms of internal security, strong support from EU Agencies, especially Europol, essential

Slovenian minister of the interior Aleš Hojs has participated at Council meeting of the EU Home Affairs ministers held via videoconference that was also the final meeting under the German presidency.

The morning session was dedicated to internal security. Ministers welcomed the conclusions setting the priorities for future work in the field of internal security. As minister Aleš Hojs accentuated, in terms of internal security, strong support from EU Agencies, especially Europol is essential, while the Europol also provides support to member states in development and use of new technologies. Slovenian minister also highlighted the importance of implementation and the need for a stronger role of the COSI Standing Committee on Internal Security in this process. As a partner in the trio presidency Slovenia is going to continue building further activities on the grounds of the conclusions on internal security during its presidency.

German presidency informed the council of ministers on having reached an agreement with the European Parliament about the prevention of online terrorist content. The agreement is going to contribute to successful prevention of radicalisation, recruitment and incitement to violence. The goal of the newly agreed piece of legislation is quick removal of terrorist content from the internet an establishment of a single instrument for all member states.

Ministers were also briefed on preparations for implementation of interoperability – synergy of multiple information systems. Preparations in Slovenia are progressing as planned, and as Slovenian minister said, special compliments should be extended to Slovenian police for their efforts. Entry exit system that is being set-up on the Slovenian – Croatian border is part of the interoperability system. The purpose of the system is detection of third country nationals who have exceeded their period of stay in the Union, improvement of internal security and efficient fight against terrorism, as well as better quality border controls.

»However, as Slovenia already warned before the negotiations on this directive, this method of registration may occasionally cause longer waiting times on border crossings with Croatia due to large number of travellers. We are also trying to keep this in mind with the introduction of this system.« minister Hojs said. With certain countries experiencing delays, ministers agreed with European Commission’s proposal for the final date for establishment of the system to be extended until May 2022.

The afternoon session of the meeting was dedicated to discussion on the progress made in negotiations on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. »As you know, we managed to harmonise our opinions regarding a number of key issues (such as the importance of the external dimension, screening procedures on the external border, etc.), while additional discussions will be required particularly regarding the solidarity principle,« the minister commented on the discussion. Slovenian minister also said that Slovenia is generally in favour of the package approach in adoption of multiple legislative proposals, whereas the proposals for directives on the EU Asylum Agency and Eurodac could be exempted from the package, but without the provisions on search and rescue operations at sea.

Minister Hojs also thanked his German colleague for the chairmanship of the Council of the EU and wished success to his Portuguese colleague. Next year, Slovenia is to take the role of the upcoming presidency. In the field of home affairs Slovenia plans to focus on establishment of a well-functioning Schengen area and better connection with the Western Balkan countries. »I would also wish police to be granted more powers for data processing« the minister concluded.