EU funding: The “return” directive


 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Thematic programme for external aid and development in order to better manage the migratory flows with a view to reducing the migratory pressure on the EU

Slovenian Presidency successfully completes the procedure of adopting the return directive, ministers confirm the SIS II schedule and Schengen evaluations completed

At today’s meeting in Luxembourg, the EU interior ministers adopted the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. Slovenian Interior Minister and President of the Home Affairs Council Dragutin Mate stated that the Slovenian Presidency, after investing great effort into harmonising the text of the Directive, had concluded a very important instrument, one which takes into full account the respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the persons concerned. The Directive provides for common standards and return procedures as well as clear, transparent and fair common rules dealing with third country nationals who illegally stay in the Member States.

Following extremely difficult negotiations in the Council working bodies, where the Member States had been seeking a compromise since 2005, and after three political trialogues with the European Parliament and the Commission, the Slovenian Presidency in late May received sufficient backing at the level of the Permanent Representatives Committee concerning the proposal for the Directive, sending it to the European Parliament. The Parliament approved the complete text of the proposal, except the article concerning free legal assistance, which it proposed to be harmonised with the provisions of the Asylum Procedures Directive. Following additional bilateral negotiations with the Member States and yesterday’s political trialogue with the European Parliament, the harmonised text of the proposal was also confirmed by the Permanent Representatives Committee, which sent it again to the European Parliament. Minister Mate added that in the process of adopting the return directive, which is the first instrument in the field of migration to be adopted in co-decision, we have all learned about the complexity of the procedure and the amount of coordination and harmonisation such a procedure requires.

At the mixed committee meeting on the margins of the Council, the EU ministers of the interior took note of the state of play of the SIS II communication network and confirmed the expanded global schedule for finalising the project, presented by the Commission. The setting up of SIS II is one of the priorities of the EU, while at the same time being one of Slovenia’s priorities in the context of its EU Council Presidency. In addition, the ministers took note of the state of play concerning the discussions on the legal basis for migration from the existing system to the SIS II system, as well as of the current situation as regards the development of the SIS II communication network and its testing in place.

Furthermore, the ministers confirmed the conclusions completing the evaluation process for all nine Member States that entered the Schengen area in late 2007. The Council noted that the process was successfully completed in all the countries. According to Minister Mate, we can express satisfaction over the efforts of the nine Member States in applying the recommendations concerning proper implementation of the Schengen Acquis that were made during numerous evaluation visits in 2006 and 2007. He also stressed that Slovenia had played an active and coordinative role in harmonising the positions and in mutual assistance among the Member States. The Council approved the multi-annual programme of Schengen evaluations and the successful completion of the Schengen evaluation on personal data protection in Switzerland, which will enable this country to use data and continue the evaluation.

Slovenian presidency

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