SCIFA Committee meeting on migration and border management dossiers
As current holder of the presidency of the Council of the European Union, Slovenia hosted an informal meeting of the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA) on 7 and 8 July 2021 in Portorož. The main topics of the meeting chaired by Matej Torkar, the Internal Affairs Adviser at the Permanent Representation to the European Union Brussels and national delegate to SCIFA, were a proposal on the asylum procedures regulation and the role of EU agencies in the management of external EU borders, and assistance they are able to provide to EU Member States in this field.
Slovenian Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs welcomed the participants, saying "Migrations and border management are the two main issues the EU as a whole has been facing in recent years." He underlined the crucial role of the SCIFA Committee: "You play an important role in harmonising the positions of EU Member States and finding suitable concrete solutions that will help us achieve the best possible progress in negotiations on the Migration and Asylum Pact."
Participants discussed the proposal of asylum procedure regulation and within its frame the border procedures that would introduce first processing of certain categories of applicants immediately upon entry to the EU. The compulsory nature of border procedures remains the key open issue. "At the meeting, the SCIFA Committee formulated guidelines for further work on the technical level regarding the extent and exemptions from border procedures within the Council's competent working body," said Slovenian national SCIFA delegate Matej Torkar. Nataša Potočnik, Director-General of the Migration Directorate, who is co-chairing the SCIFA Committee, expressed her satisfaction at the end of the meeting: "Certain solutions have been indicated, which shows that we are gradually, step-by-step, making progress towards formulating a common EU migration policy."
Participants also discussed the (shared) responsibility of border management between EU Member States and the EU. Member states bear the main responsibility for the management and control of borders, but as this is a common EU interest, the EU must assist countries in their efforts. "We reviewed the mandates of EU agencies (Frontex, EASO, Europol and Eu-Lisa) and their options for the provision of assistance to member states located on the external EU borders experiencing the heaviest migration pressure," Torkar added. Participants drafted strategic guidelines on how we can best join efforts to improve the protection of borders and best assist the countries experiencing the heaviest pressure in the spirit of European solidarity.