The Minister of the Interior, Aleš Hojs, met with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, in Ljubljana yesterday. The meeting focused on Slovenia’s preparations for the Council Presidency in the second semester of 2021.The Minister outlined to the Commissioner the priorities in the area of home affairs. These are integrated migration management, the strengthening of the Schengen area leading to improved security in the EU and Slovenia, and the Western Balkans being a regional priority.
“This was a valuable and timely meeting. We are preparing fully to assume the Presidency. As I said on another occasion, we see the European Commission as an important partner in working towards joint solutions at the EU level,” Minister Hojs said after the meeting.
As the European Commission is preparing a new Schengen strategy, they discussed the timeline for this document to be placed on the home affairs agenda. Proper planning is crucial, since the Commission has also envisaged several other projects to work on in the second semester, particularly in the area of internal security (for instance, the revision of the Prüm decisions extending the scope of information exchange between police forces, the police code, etc.).
The Minister and the Commissioner also discussed the Pact on Migration and Asylum, including negotiations on legislative acts within the Pact. Mr. Hojs said: “The Presidency will strive to achieve the best possible progress in the negotiations. The Commissioner assured me of the Commission’s support in reaching compromise solutions. Negotiations on legislative acts might be lengthy, but considerable progress can be made in the area of return”. According to the Commissioner, a concrete list of third countries with which the EU will first step up return negotiations will be made soon. “Another step forward would be to conclude negotiations concerning the regulation on asylum agency,” added the Minister.
Further, Mr. Hojs and Ms Johansson exchanged views on internal security and the Western Balkans. The Commissioner has visited that region recently and considered the migration situation there. The countries of the Western Balkans are bearing a heavy burden and should be helped, they agreed. Concluding, the Minister said the Presidency will also strive to promote police cooperation and the exchange of information between the countries in the region (e. g. through strengthening Europol’s mandate, preventing child sexual abuse, promoting activities concerning missing persons).