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Ministers discussed foreign fighters, immigration and data protection.

Council discusses data protection reform

At the Justice and Home Affairs Council, on 4 and 5 December 2014, ministers reached a partial general approach on the proposed data protection regulation.

The partial general approach covers articles crucial to the question of the public sector. It also comprises provisions relating to specific data processing situations (Chapter IX).

In addition, ministers held a debate on the "one stop shop" mechanism, on the basis of a proposal presented by the Presidency. This proposal tried to keep the principle of a single supervisory decision for important transnational cases, while also taking into consideration the need to enhance proximity between the individuals and the decision-making authority. A majority of ministers endorsed the general architecture of the proposal and concluded that further technical work would be needed on the basis of these elements.

The presidency also briefed the Council on the state of play of the directive on protecting individuals with regards to the processing of personal data for the purpose of law enforcement.

Counter - terrorism

The Council had an in-depth debate on the issue of foreign fighters, on the basis of a discussion paper prepared by the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. The Coordinator also submitted a progress report on the implementation of the measures decided by the Council on 9-10 October 2014.

Justice and Home Affairs ministers took stock of the progress made so far regarding foreign fighters, and focused on:

  • the judicial response to the phenomenon
  • further improvements in information exchange
  • the  EU PNR directive

The Council also adopted the draft guidelines for the EU radicalisation and recruitment strategy. It took note of two reports from the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator:

  • report on the implementation of the EU counter-terrorism strategy
  • report on the implementation of the revised strategy on terrorist financing

Other main items on the agenda

The Council approved a political agreement reached with the European Parliament on the proposed regulation on insolvency proceedings. The new rules aim at making cross-border insolvency proceedings more efficient and effective. This will contribute to ensuring a smooth functioning of the internal market and its resilience in economic crisis.

Ministers were also briefed by the Commission and the EEAS on two points relating to illegal migration:

  • the implementation of the operational actions identified by the Task Force Mediterranean
  • the follow up to the October 2014 Council Conclusions on "Taking action to better manage migratory flows"

The Council held a debate on the proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO). After previous discussions regarding the organisation and competences of the office, ministers focused in this case on how the independence of the EPPO can be best ensured. They agreed that, in order to achieve this independence, further discussions will be needed to strengthen the rules for the appointment and dismissal of the members of the Office.

The Council also adopted, among other texts:

  • a general approach on the directive to strengthen certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings
  • a general approach on a regulation amending the European small claims regulation and the European order for payment regulation
  • Council conclusions on development of a renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy
  • Council conclusions on Training of legal practitioners: an essential tool to consolidate the EU acquis
  • Council conclusions on the legacy of Schengen evaluation within the Council and its future role and responsibilities under the new mechanism
  • Council resolution on Creation of an operational network - @ON - to counter mafia- style serious and organised crime groups