EU Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs will discuss a number of measures aimed at increasing border security in Europe at a two-day meeting in Brussels this week. Ministers are also expected to approve proposals agreed with the European Parliament on the mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters. Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD will chair the meeting.
The European Commission will present a new package of measures on Smart Borders for discussion by Home Affairs Ministers at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Thursday 7th March. The Smart Borders initiative is intended to speed up border crossing for regular travellers while also helping to better secure the external borders of the EU through the use of new Entry/Exit and Registered Traveller systems.
Minister Shatter - Securing Europe’s borders is a vital element in ensuring the free movement rights of European citizens.
The Irish Presidency also expects Ministers to set the 9th of April 2013 as the date for the entry into operation of the long-awaited second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). SIS II is a large scale IT system which will allow border guards, customs officers and law-enforcement authorities in Member States to share information vital to ensuring the security and smooth operation of the Schengen free travel area.
Minister Shatter, Chair of the Council, said:
“Securing Europe’s borders is a vital element in ensuring the free movement rights of European citizens. We must take full advantage of the opportunities new technology provides to combine strong security at our borders with ease of travel for legitimate travellers.”
Home Affairs Ministers will also discuss the security situation in the Sahel region of West Africa, in light of the deteriorating conditions in that region.
On the second day of the Council, Friday 8th March, Justice Ministers are expected to approve proposals concerning the mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters. The text of the proposal, which is part of a legislative package aimed at strengthening the rights of victims in the EU, was recently agreed with the European Parliament. The measure will ensure that vulnerable persons who are granted civil protection orders, such as a barring order in cases of domestic violence, are free to travel across EU borders in the knowledge that they continue to be protected under the law.
Minister Shatter - The importance of these proposals cannot be overstated for the victims in need of the protection provided by such orders.
Commenting on these proposals Minister Shatter said:
“For the first time victims of violence, harassment or intimidation will be able to benefit from protection measures against their aggressors in other Member States allowing them to travel within the EU in safety. To put it in context, a woman who has been the victim of an abusive partner and found the courage to seek help and protection from the authorities will now be able to enjoy the safety of that protection in other Member States. This would give her the freedom to go on holiday or visit family abroad, or even relocate without further risking her safety or having to go through additional court processes in other countries. The importance of these proposals cannot be overstated for the victims in need of the protection provided by such orders.”
The important issue of Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen Area will be considered by Ministers. Proposals aimed at protecting the euro against counterfeiting and a debate on the progress of negotiations on key data protection proposals are also on the agenda.