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Home affairs, 9 December

Hybrid threats and migratory challenges

Ministers discussed the issues of hybrid attacks and of migrant smuggling. They focused in particular on the effectiveness of the current tools in responding to these phenomena and on the tools needed to be better prepared for the future.

Since a few months, we are witnessing another dimension of the migration challenge, with the hybrid attack by the Belarus regime. At the same time, there are a number of other different, but no less pressing, migration challenges at our external border. Today we held an open discussion on possible further actions to improve the protection of our external borders and prevent the loss of lives. – Aleš Hojs, Slovenian Minister for the Interior

Ministers considered what additional actions in the field of home affairs the EU can still take in order to respond to the use of migration as a hybrid threat and to deter similar attempts in the future. They discussed what measures should be taken as a matter of priority to effectively prevent secondary movements within the EU and to break the business model of smugglers. Taking into account the efforts put into strengthening the external dimension of migration over the last months, ministers also discussed which other elements should be prioritised at EU level.

Over lunch, ministers discussed sustainable solutions in respect of the migration and asylum pact.


Next Generation EU: infiltration by organised crime

Ministers held a debate on the Next Generation EU recovery funds and on how infiltration by organised crime into legal structures and processes can best be prevented.

We cannot afford a situation where taxpayers’ money ends up supporting the activities of organised crime or where our legal structures and processes are abused to create legitimate fronts for criminal activities. Today ministers highlighted the importance of having a good picture of the threat we are facing and the need to act jointly to counter it. Aleš Hojs, Slovenian Minister for the Interior

Ministers underlined the importance of using a variety of tools and a coordinated EU approach to prevent and counter infiltration by organised crime into legal structures. They also highlighted the need for member states to exchange information about the vulnerabilities of legal structures by evaluating a variety of indicators. A better intelligence picture by the member states and the relevant JHA agencies is also needed.

Ministers also took note of the Commission presentation on the new proposals on Prum, law enforcement cooperation and exchange of information. Work on these proposals will continue at technical level within the Council.


Resilience of critical entities

Ministers took note of the agreement on a general approach reached by ambassadors yesterday, which is expected to be formally adopted by the Council on 20 December.

Improving the resilience of our critical infrastructures is vital for the security and prosperity of our societies. The changes in our security landscape, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid threats or extreme weather events show us that we need to do more to be collectively prepared for future challenges. The agreement reached by ambassadors yesterday, which I expect to be formally adopted by the Council soon, is an important step in this direction. – Aleš Hojs, Slovenian Minister for the Interior

The EU is working on new rules to make critical infrastructures more resilient, resistant and shock-proof.

The draft directive on the resilience of critical entities aims to make sure these entities are ready to prevent, resist and recover from natural disasters, terrorism or health emergencies such as COVID-19. The draft Council mandate covers entities in nine sectors: energy, transport, banking, financial market infrastructures, health, drinking water, waste water, digital infrastructure and space.

Under the proposed new rules, critical entities should report disruptive incidents to national authorities, and EU members states should identify critical entities, carry out national risk assessments and have a strategy for ensuring the resilience of such entities.

Once the Council general approach is formally adopted, negotiations with the European Parliament can start.


Application of Schengen acquis in Croatia

The Council today concluded that Croatia has fulfilled the necessary conditions for the application of all parts of the Schengen acquis. This verification that the necessary conditions for the application of all parts of the Schengen acquis have been met by Croatia is a precondition for the Council to be able to take a subsequent decision allowing for the lifting of internal border controls.


Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism

Ministers assessed progress on the proposed Council regulation on a Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism. Discussions will now continue at technical level within the Council.

The proposal aims to make the Schengen area more adaptable to current and future challenges by increasing the strategic focus of this mechanism, shortening and simplifying the evaluation and monitoring procedures, strengthening the verification of the respect for fundamental rights in the implementation of the Schengen acquis and optimising the participation of all state and EU actors.


Implementation of interoperability

Ministers exchanged views on the implementation of interoperability. On the basis of the assessment by eu-LISA and the European Commission, they agreed on a revised timeline of mid-June 2022 for the upgraded Schengen Information System,  end of September 2022 for the Entry/Exit System and May 2023 for ETIAS and ECRIS-TCN.

The aim remains to have the interoperability architecture in place by the end of 2023.


Counter-terrorism cooperation

Ministers were briefed on the cooperation between competent authorities dealing with counterterrorism, in the presence of the counter-terrorism group (CTG).

Lessons learned from the terrorist attacks in Europe clearly showed that cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence actors is needed. In November 2016, ministers agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation between the CTG and Europol in areas of common interest, while fully respecting the sole competence of member states for national security.


Other business

The presidency informed ministers about the latest developments regarding work on current legislative proposals.

It also reported on the outcome of the EU-Western Balkans Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting and on the preparations and the agenda for the upcoming EU-US Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting.

The Presidency reported on the outcome of the virtual ministerial conference on the prevention and investigation of child sexual abuse, held on 11-12 November.

The upcoming French presidency of the Council presented its work programme and priorities for the next six months.

The Council also adopted without discussion the items that figure in the lists of legislative and non-legislative A items.


Justice, 10 December

Estimated schedule

09:00 Arrivals
10:00 Public session
15:00 Press conference

Live streaming

Live streaming


    Access to e-evidence to fight crime

    Justice ministers will take stock of progress on the ongoing negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament regarding the e-evidence regulation.

    The new rules would allow judicial authorities from one EU country to directly request access to e-evidence from any service provider offering services in the European Union and established or represented in another member state.


    Other matters

    Ministers will exchange views on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic for the functioning of courts and for the judicial review and scrutiny of emergency measures.

    The presidency will update justice ministers on the state of play on the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The Council will also discuss how to better combat hate speech and hate crime for a more inclusive and protective Europe.


    Meeting information
    • Meeting n°3837
    • Brussels
    • 9 December 2021
    • 10:00
    Preparatory documents
    Outcome documents
    Press releases
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