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Minister Hojs visits Estonia and Germany as part of Presidency preparations

The Minister of the Interior, Aleš Hojs, met with Krum Garkov, the Executive Director of the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) in Tallinn, Estonia, today, as part of the preparations for the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

In their discussion, Mr Hojs and Mr Garkov focused on the Agency’s key tasks, consisting mainly of the management and renovation of the existing IT systems (Schengen Information System – SIS, Eurodac and Visa Information System – VIS), construction of new information systems (Entry/Exit System – EES, European Travel Information and Authorisation System  – ETIAS and ECRIS – TCN) and ensuring their connectivity (i.e. interoperability). The prerequisite for the successful implementation of this project is the timely completion of the central projects as well as the timely preparation of all Member States.

“Our concern is the functioning of the Entry/Exit System at the land border, which is something we raised with the Agency several times and we looked for appropriate technical solutions together,” said the Minister, before adding that “the currently available IT solutions require that third-country nationals, who need to be entered into the EES, get out of their vehicles, which will increase the time needed for processing travellers at the border with Croatia” .

During its Presidency, Slovenia will organize a meeting of the Agency's Management Board as well as an annual conference on the possibilities of data collection in large-scale IT systems to improve safety and travel experience, with experts from the Ministry and the Police and the Agency working closely together.

Meeting with the Estonian Minister of the Interior
The Minister concluded his visit to Estonia with a meeting with the Estonian Minister of the Interior, Kristian Jaani. Minister Hojs began by thanking Mr Jaani: “I sincerely thank you and your government for the positive response to our request for assistance in controlling the Slovenian southern border, where most cases of illegal border crossing are detected.” Several days ago, the Estonian government decided to deploy some police officers to Slovenia to assist the Slovenian police in controlling the border with Croatia.

The ministers discussed the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency in the field of home affairs. Mr Hojs told Mr Jaani that during the Presidency we would focus on integrated migration management, strengthening the Schengen area and ensuring the highest possible level of security in the EU and Slovenia, while the regional priority is the Western Balkans region.

The Estonian minister expressed his support for Slovenia’s efforts to make progress in the negotiations on the Pact on Migration and Asylum. "Estonia will be a constructive partner in the negotiations, which I am very pleased about," said Minister Hojs. “For both countries, progress in the external dimension of migration and the elimination of its causes are of utmost importance, as is increased return effectiveness. As for solidarity, we agree that it should be flexible and include a set of different measures to help Member States under pressure.” As for internal security, both Member States support enhancing police cooperation and information exchange as well as the strengthening of Europol’s mandate, as it provides a lot of assistance particularly to smaller Member States in analyzing large databases.

Meeting with the German Minister of Interior

Minister Hojs also visited Berlin, where he met with his German counterpart Horst Seehofer. The two ministers had met several times before via video link as colleagues in the Trio Presidency. Slovenia will continue the work set up by Germany, which, alongside Portugal, is Slovenia’s partner in the trio. “I am pleased that, as colleague Seehofer told me, Germany would be a constructive partner in the negotiations during our Presidency,” said Mr Hojs.

During their meeting, the ministers focused on migration and opportunities for progress in this area. “We believe that progress could be made on the proposal for a regulation on the EU Asylum Agency, which would be exempted from the package. EASO urgently needs a new, broader mandate to provide operational support to the Member States,” Minister Hojs told his German counterpart. “We will be committed to a greater breakthrough in return and readmission, but the European Commission and the EEAS must play their role here as the external dimension of migration is under their remit. Commissioner Johansson told me a few days ago that we could soon expect a concrete list of third countries with which the EU would first step up talks in this area.”

The ministers also touched on the migration situation in the Western Balkans. They agreed that the countries in the region, which have put a lot of effort into legislative solutions, should be helped to put these into practice. This requires a country-specific structured approach. This will also be the topic of the June meeting of interior ministers of the Brdo Process in Slovenia.