Hojs and Schinas about the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency
Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs met with Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, today at Brdo Castle. The discussion focused on three key topics: the Pact on Migration and Asylum, the strategy for the future of Schengen and the proposal for an amendment of the Regulation establishing the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism and internal security.
Minister Hojs said that as regards the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, Slovenia, as the next EU Council Presidency holder, will strive for progress in the negotiations on legislative acts in the area of migration and asylum. With regard to the proposal for a regulation on asylum and migration management, the Minister stressed that we support the preparation of additional simulations, "which must also include border procedures and solidarity. Only in this way can we get a clear picture of what burden the Member States will actually have to share." The Vice-President Schinas ensured support to Slovenia in the negotiations with the Mediterranean countries and in seeking consensus on the proposal for a regulation on the EU Asylum Agency, thereby strengthening the mandate of the European Asylum Support Office.
On 2 June this year, the Commission presented the Strategy for the Future of Schengen and the proposal for an amendment of the Regulation establishing the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism, which will be discussed during the Slovenian Presidency. "Slovenia welcomes the new strategy, which is in principle well prepared," Minister Hojs stressed, "we are still looking at the details, which are usually crucial, and it would be a major achievement if the members reached a consensus to make the recommendations binding". Furthermore, controls at internal borders should be imposed only in cases of urgency and should be proportionate and temporary. In order to achieve the objective of the Schengen area without internal border controls, the control of external borders needs to be strengthened. "We aim at a fully operational and resilient Schengen area. We need to operationalise the new powers of Frontex as soon as possible by establishing the standing corps and optimally use this corps to strengthen the control of the most exposed parts of the external border, including the Western Balkans", Minister Hojs said.
All Member States should approach more responsibly the implementation of measures to address the shortcomings identified in the Schengen evaluation mechanism. In doing so, Minister Hojs called for a shortened evaluation cycle and for its increased efficiency. He ensured that during the Presidency, Slovenia will make every effort to make the best possible progress so that the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism Regulation could be adopted as soon as possible. He also emphasised Slovenia’s position to support the enlargement of the Schengen area.
In the area of internal security, Slovenia will focus on ensuring a high level of security in the EU, with better and enhanced police cooperation. Slovenia supports a reinforced Europol mandate. Therefore, the main priority will be to revise the Agency's mandate to enable it to function successfully and become key to cooperation between law enforcement authorities, Minister Hojs said. He also stressed that the Western Balkans is the political and strategic priority region for Slovenia. Police cooperation in preventing and investigating child sexual abuse online, cross-border search for missing persons, especially children, should be strengthened.