Justice and Home Affairs Council, 08-09/06/2017

Council of the EU

Main results

Criminal justice in cyberspace

Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs discussed the way forward on e-evidence on the basis of the practical solutions identified as a result of the Commission's expert process. They supported the swift implementation of a number of practical measures to improve cooperation among judicial authorities and with service providers. These include the creation of an electronic user-friendly version of the European Investigation Order (EIO), the creation of single points of contacts within the authorities of member states and service providers to facilitate cooperation, the streamlining of service providers' policies on procedures and conditions to request access, the standardisation of forms used by member states to request access to e-evidence, amongst others. To improve cooperation with US authorities, a key partner when it comes to e-evidence, the exchange of best practices and training of practitioners should also be further enhanced.

A large majority of them supported the need to consider EU legislative action regarding direct cooperation  with service providers and setting EU common conditions and minimum safeguards for direct access to data by authorities from a computer system.  Many underlined that in developing such a framework due account must given to the issues of data protection as well as the need to take into account and ensure synergies as appropriate with current discussions taking place at international level. Taking into account the sense of urgency raised by a number of ministers, the Commission announced its intention to present a legislative proposal early next year.

The European Commission briefed ministers on the work carried out in the expert process on encryption, which is foreseen to continue during the coming months. The Presidency also briefed ministers on the state of play with regard to data retention.

Children in migration

Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs jointly discussed the current challenges related to the increased number of children in migration travelling to and arriving in the European Union. In 2015 and 2016, 30 percent of asylum applicants in the EU were children, many of them travelling without their family.

Ministers adopted Council conclusions to reaffirm that children in migration have the right to be protected, in line with relevant provisions of EU law, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and with international law on the rights of the child.

"Children in migration require a specific protection as they are exposed to high risks of violence, trafficking or exploitation along migration routes. The debate is a first step. We now need to move forward and ensure that we take, at national level, appropriate and practical measures such as those proposed by the Commission in its recent communication."

Maltese presidency

Other Justice issues

The Council adopted a number of general approaches including on the directive on the supply of digital content and services, on the proposal for a directive on countering money laundering by means of criminal law, and on data protection by the union institutions and bodies.

The member states participating in enhanced cooperation adopted a general approach on the proposal for a regulation of the Council on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, whose role is to combat crimes against the EU's financial interests.

Migration policy

Ministers exchanged views on migration policy, in particular on the situation in the Central Mediterranean and on the implementation of the Malta declaration of 3 February 2017. 

They also discussed return and readmission policy, where ministers underlined the importance of further reinforcing EU return policy and making it more efficient. On Thursday, the Council adopted conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons, which mention in particular the need to consider stronger coordination between the areas of return and visa policy.

Reform of  the common European asylum system

Ministers took stock of work carried out so far on the reform of the common European asylum system (CEAS) and discussed the way forward.

The EU continues building on its comprehensive approach to migration. This includes tackling migration flows, improving returns of those who are not in need of international protection and reforming the common European asylum system.

Maltese presidency of the Council

European travel information and authorisation system

The Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). This system will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area.

Other home affairs issues

Ministers exchanged views on improving information exchange and interoperability of information systems, on which the Council adopted conclusions on Thursday. Work on this topic will continue during the upcoming Estonian presidency.

Ministers discussed the legislative proposals to improve the Schengen Information System (SIS). In particular, they focused on three points: preventive alerts for children at risk of abduction, alerts on persons and objects for inquiry checks and enhancing the SIS in the area of judicial cooperation. They broadly agreed on the possibility to include preventive alerts for children at risk of abduction, as well as alerts on persons and objects for inquiry checks. The issue of enhancing the use of SIS in the area of judicial cooperation will be explored at a later stage. Work will continue at technical level on the basis of this guidance.

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