Minister of the Interior
of the Republic of Slovenia
‘Key priorities for Slovenia’s Presidency of the EU
in the fields of immigration and asylum’
Ü Eurasylum: Slovenia will preside over the European Council as from 1st January 2008, for six months. Although a general 18-month framework programme was elaborated for the three successive German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies, covering the period January 2007 to June 2008, could you guide us through the key priorities of Slovenia’s EU Presidency in the field of immigration and asylum?
Ü Dragutin Mate: During the presidency of the EU Council, Slovenia will follow up on the activites and agenda from the 18-month trio programme drawn up by Germany, Portugal and our country. In the field of immigration we shall continue the work on the Return Directive and Directive on sanctions for employers. We will focus on two legislative instruments foreseen in the Policy plan ol legal migration in 2005, which were proposed by the EC in October 2007: the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment and the Directive on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third country workers legally residing in a Member State. The Slovenian Presidency will start the discussion on both proposals in the Migration Admission Working Party of the Council and will aim to achieve as much progress as possible towards the adoption of both instruments.
In the field of asylum our intention is to discuss the Directive on extending the scope of the Directive 2003/109/ to the beneficiaries of the international protection and hopefully start working on the proposed amendments to the EURODAC regulation – if the European Commission tables the proposal within our presidency.
The discussion on the Green Paper on the Future Asylum System, issued by the Commission, will be concluded by the end of this year. We are planning to have a discussion at the informal Council at the end of January on the second phase of asylum policy, focusing on future practical co-operation among Member States.
Ü Eurasylum: The need to strike the right balance between effective immigration controls and facilitation of selective economic migration and other forms of legal migration, or what is referred to as effective migration management, has considerably ascended the EU policy agenda over the last two years. This is reflected, in particular, in such key EC Communications as those on the Policy Plan on Legal Migration, the Global Approach to Migration, and Circular migration and mobility partnerships. Mention should further be made of a recent OECD report, presented at the High Level Conference on Legal Migration organised by the Portuguese Presidency on 13-14 September 2007, which reviews a range of recommendations for the creation of additional legal channels and flexible options for the recruitment of third-country nationals in those sectors of the EU economy that most need them. Can you outline and discuss the main initiatives to be taken by your Presidency in the field of legal migration?
Ü Dragutin Mate: One of the main challenges for the EU and the Member States is to find the right mechanisms in order to succesfuly incorporate legal migration opportunities, while respecting the competencies of the Members States, into the Union’s external policies. The aim should be to develop balanced partnerships with third countries, adapted to specific labour market needs of the EU Member States. In this context Slovenia sees mobility partnerships with third countries and circular migration as possible instruments which could contribute to a coherent migration policy that combines measures aimed at facilitating well-managed legal migration opportunities and their benefits with the fight against illegal migration, the protection of refugees, and tackling the root causes of migration. At the same time these measure should impact positively on the development of the countries of origin. Based on the conclusions of the European Council of December 2007, Slovenia will undertake all necessary efforts to work closely with the Commission, the Member States and the relevant counterparts to explore instruments to be adopted by the competent Council bodies and through pilot projects, to be launched at the beginning of the 2008. Slovenia believes that major progress in this field can be achieved by the end of its Presidency.
Ü Eurasylum: During the Portuguese Presidency, the need to launch and/or reinforce concrete cooperation on border control, search and rescue, and return (including identification and documentation), relating to illegal migration from the Southern maritime borders, was reaffirmed. The Presidency further called for closer cooperation with third countries of origin and transit, with a view to enhancing their capacity to manage their own borders and their capacity to provide protection to those who need it. This includes the development, by the EU Member States, the European Commission and FRONTEX, in cooperation with relevant partners such as UNHCR and IOM, of an integrated approach to border control and the fight against illegal immigration, taking account not only of interception but also protection needs and repatriation. Can you discuss your Presidency’s planned initiatives to bring forward such an integrated approach to the fight against irregular immigration?
Ü Dragutin Mate: Portugal has organised the first open discussion on the use of technologies in the Integrated Border Management at the recent EU Informal Council. Slovenia intends to broaden this discussion. On 12 March 2008 we will organise a ministerial conference on the management of external borders. We intend to have three debates on the basis of three Communications from the Commission: one on the future of FRONTEX (the Commission report will be issued in February), in relation to which we will have a political debate on Frontex and will try to prepare a set of conclusions; one on the EU entry-exit system at borders; and one on border surveillance in the context of the use of modern technologies. At this conference we will discuss issues of physical surveillance of the green border (particularly the use of radars, infra-red cameras etc.) and new possibilities for the use of biometric technology by border control officers.