As part of the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the Minister also visits the European Public Prosecutor's Office
Dr Dominika Švarc Pipan, Minister of Justice, attended the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg and visited the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), which celebrated the first anniversary of its operations on 1 June.
The Council confirmed two general approaches from the package on the digitalisation of justice, i.e. regarding the Proposal for a Regulation on the digital information exchange in terrorism cases and the Proposal for a Regulation establishing a collaboration platform to support the functioning of joint investigation teams.
The first proposal anticipates the establishment and application of secure communications channels for the exchange of sensitive data between competent authorities of the EU Member States and the Eurojust, while the second one will facilitate the exchange of information and evidence collected for the members of the joint investigation team, ensure simpler and safer communication, and accelerate joint day-to-day management, including the planning and coordination of activities. The negotiations with the European Parliament will commence during the Czech Republic Presidency of the EU Council.
The Ministers also learned about the progress in the negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament about the legislative package on electronic evidence. The French Presidency continued the efforts to attain progress.
In the discussion, the Ministers dedicated special attention to the war in Ukraine, particularly the protection of children and minors, and more efficient implementation of restrictive measures and their further development in the EU area. The European Commission recently introduced a new legislative package, which includes the seizure and confiscation of assets and a proposal to extend the list of EU crimes making the violation of EU restrictive measures an EU crime.
Minister Švarc Pipan said, "All our measures must be compliant with the principle of the rule of law and our common European values. In the case of confiscation of assets, which is a major encroachment on the rights of an individual, extra caution must be exercised. If we want to retain credibility in the long term, all our measures must withstand a possible judicial review by the European courts."
Furthermore, the Ministers reached an agreement on a partial general approach regarding the Draft Environmental Crime Directive, which enhances the Union’s criminal law framework in the fight against environmental crime. They also discussed the issues involving minimum harmonisation of sanctions for natural and legal persons. This is an important and sensitive field, requiring political attention and discussion.
Minister Švarc Pipan stated, "The preservation of a healthy natural environment is an important asset for us, and the mechanisms of criminal law must certainly be used in the fight against serious forms of action detrimental to the environment. It’s right that the EU with its ambitious approach also sets an example at the global level."
The Council adopted the conclusions of the EU strategy on the rights of the child. The French Presidency continued the work that was set out in this field at the time of the Slovenian Presidency. The consensus reached is a success, although a compromise was required. The text of the conclusions also includes a reference to the war in Ukraine and the challenges to be addressed from the aspect of protection of children’s rights in armed conflicts. Furthermore, the text addresses key challenges arising from the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and thus supports the efforts of the Commission regarding the protection, enhancement and promotion of children’s rights, whereby it particularly highlights the importance of protecting the most vulnerable categories.
The Ministers also became acquainted with the situation of the EU’s accession to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The Republic of Slovenia supports the EU’s accession to the ECHR as the observance of human rights by the EU would be thus subject to the external supervision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, subsequently further enhancing the system of human rights protection in the EU.
During the working lunch, the Ministers exchanged their views regarding personal data protection in the context of international data transfers. The discussion particularly focused on the establishment of a new regime for predicable and trustworthy data exchange between the EU and the USA, which would meet the standards set by the Court of Justice of the European Union in judgments Schrems I and Schrems II.
Minister Švarc Pipan said, "A coherent and ambitious European policy is of the utmost importance for converging the protection of fundamental rights at the global level and for addressing the strategic challenges that international transfers of personal data pose to the European policy at the horizontal level."
In addition to the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council and at the invitation of the European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruţa Kövesi, the Ministers of Justice also visited the European Public Prosecutor's Office, which celebrated the first anniversary of its operations on 1 June. On this occasion, Minister Švarc Pipan expressed her satisfaction that two European Delegated Prosecutors from Slovenia have been fully operational in the EPPO since last November despite the undue delay in their appointment by the previous Government. "They both enjoy my full support, and I am certain that they will perform their work professionally and thoroughly," added the Minister.