Home Affairs - 9 December
Common European Asylum System
Home affairs ministers discussed the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and agreed a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the Eurodac regulation.
This is an important part of the Common European Asylum Reform, one of our top priorities. I'm glad to see the progress on which the Maltese presidency can build on.Robert Kaliňák, Minister for the Interior of Slovakia and President of the Council
They were also briefed by the Presidency on the state of play of the remaining files of the reform of the CEAS and resettlement.
Ministers discussed the situation on the ground and the flows along the main migration routes, and evaluated the EU response agreed and implemented so far. Ministers addressed specifically issues such as the deployment to agencies (in particular EASO and Frontex), relocations, the implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard regulation and the Partnership Framework, especially the results achieved on returns and readmission with the five priority countries.
Ministers supported the efforts of the European Asylum Office (EASO) to take all necessary steps to enable experts to be recruited directly by the agency in order to alleviate critical staff shortages.
Fight against terrorism and organised crime
The Council took note of a report from the EU Counter-terrorism coordinator setting out policy options to face the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters returnees. Ministers tasked experts to continue the discussion with a view to the possible development of EU policy measures regarding this phenomenon.
Ministers also took note of the proposals made by France and Germany on the need to improve the cooperation between the law enforcement agencies and electronic service providers.
The Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the member states adopted conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU.
The Slovak presidency informed ministers on the agreements reached with the European Parliament to reinforce checks at external borders and on the visa suspension mechanism.
Justice, 8 December
European public prosecutor - EPPO
Justice ministers discussed extensively the EPPO regulation. The overall majority of ministers reaffirmed their commitment to establish the public prosecutor and, pending some final technical work, supported the text as it now stands. However, the presidency took note of the different positions of delegations and concluded that these give a clear indication on the likely procedural way forward to ensure a positive conclusion on this file.
I am glad to see the commitment of the Council to establish a European public prosecutor's office. If we want to ensure that EU taxpayers money is well protected, including in cross border cases, we need a European prosecutor. I am confident that a positive conclusion is within reach in the next few months.Lucia Žitňanská, minister for Justice of Slovakia and president of the Council
The European Public Prosecutor's Office regulation aims at helping combat crimes against the EU's financial interests.
Protection of the EU financial interests - 'PIF'
The Council reached an agreement on the directive on the protection of the financial interest of the EU, paving the way for a formal adoption of the text in the coming weeks.
The objective of the so-called PIF directive is to deter fraudsters, improve the prosecution and sanctioning of crimes against the EU budget, and facilitate the recovery of misused EU funds, thereby increasing the protection of EU taxpayers' money.
Digital single market
Ministers provided guidance for further technical work on the directive regarding certain contractual aspects concerning the supply of digital content. In particular, they discussed the applicable rules to 'embedded digital content' (e.g. software included in so called smart fridges), on the definition and applicable rules for data other than personal data, and on the right balance in the legislation between subjective conformity criteria (i.e. criteria agreed in the contract) and objective conformity criteria (i.e. criteria stipulated in the law).