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Ministers of the Interior in Brussels on the Schengen area and migration

Minister of the Interior Boštjan Poklukar attended a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union in Brussels, where the main topics were the Schengen area, migration and the implications of the war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East on the EU's internal security.

The morning part of the meeting was devoted to the governance of the Schengen area. Minister Poklukar said in a press statement: "Slovenia remains a strong supporter of the Schengen area and the right to freedom of movement. It is therefore firmly committed to reverting to a regime without internal border control as soon as possible – as soon as the circumstances allow." He also stressed the need for effective management of the EU's external borders: "We believe that Member States should make greater use of Frontex's support in protecting the EU's external borders. Frontex's assistance does not reflect a host country's weakness, but rather a serious commitment to effective work, a European way of tackling challenges and solidarity between Member States."

Returning people who have no right to remain in the EU is also an important part of effective migration management, Poklukar stressed. "In this respect, we agree that we must (as a matter of priority) ensure the effective return of those who pose a risk or threat to our public order or internal security."

During the afternoon session, the ministers took note of the progress report on the negotiations on the Pact on Migration and Asylum. Slovenia supports the adoption as soon as possible of all legislative proposals under the Pact, which are currently the subject of intensive inter-institutional negotiations at technical level. In this context, Minister Poklukar stressed that "we are aware of the time constraints due to the imminent end of the interinstitutional negotiations period, but we must not rush into bad compromises that will not be workable in practice."

Over a working lunch, the ministers discussed the impact of the situation in the Middle East and Ukraine. The chair of the counter-terrorism group updated the ministers on the state of play of the cooperation between the authorities responsible for the fight against terrorism. In this context, Slovenia supports any strengthening of cooperation between all relevant stakeholders in the fight against terrorism, in particular the strengthening of cooperation between intelligence and police services. On the sidelines of the Council, Mr Poklukar met with his fellow ministers and invited them to the Salzburg Forum Conference. The topics of the conference, which will take place on Monday and Tuesday, 11 and 12 December 2023, at Brdo pri Kranju, will be the future of the Schengen area and the fight against smuggling.