Justice and Home Affairs Council, 12-13/10/2017

Council of the EU

Main results - 13 October

Schengen Borders Code

Ministers held a first exchange of views on the European Commission proposal to amend the Schengen Borders Code. This concerns rules on the temporary reintroduction of internal border controls. Discussions on this proposal will now continue at technical level.

Ministers also took note of the Commission recommendation on the implementation of the current rules.

"The benefits of the Schengen area are undisputed, and we need to find the best way of protecting these achievements whilst at the same time being able to respond to the evolving threats faced by some member states. Today we had a good and honest debate and we will now continue with a detailed examination of the proposal."

Andres Anvelt, Estonian Minister for the Interior

Counter terrorism

Ministers exchanged views on how to improve cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence actors on counter-terrorism, whilst fully respecting the fact that national security is the sole responsibility of member states.

Migration and asylum

Ministers discussed informally the role resettlement could take in the overall migration management and asylum policies of the EU, following the recent Commission recommendation. 

The Council also took note of the progress made on all the seven legislative files that together make up the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). 

  • On one of the proposals (EU Agency for Asylum), a broad political agreement ad referendum was reached with the European Parliament in June 2017
  • On two files(Eurodac and Qualification regulations) negotiations are ongoing with the European Parliament
  • On two other proposals (Resettlement Regulation and Reception Conditions Directive) the presidency aims to reach a Council mandate and if possible to start negotiations with the European Parliament before the end of the year
  • On another file (asylum procedures regulation), work has been progressing in the Council preparatory bodies
  • On the issue of solidarity and responsibility (Dublin), the efforts to find common approach have been carried forward, building on the work of the previous presidencies.

Main results - 12 October

European Public Prosecutor's Office

The regulation establishing the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) was adopted by those member states taking part in enhanced cooperation. The EPPO will be in charge of investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice the perpetrators of offences against the Union's financial interests. It will bring together European and national law enforcement efforts to counter EU fraud.

Judicial cooperation in criminal matters  

Ministers discussed the proposed regulation to extend the existing European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) by establishing a centralised system. A majority of member states agreed that the system should contain information on convicted third country nationals, even if the person also holds an EU nationality. Ministers also discussed the criteria for entering fingerprints in the ECRIS system. While a number of ministers considered criteria of a custodial sentence for an intentionally committed crime to be a balanced compromise, further work is necessary. 

Ministers also held a policy debate on the proposed regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders and broadly supported the inclusion of systems of preventive confiscation in the scope of the regulation, provided that the confiscation order is clearly linked to criminal activities and appropriate procedural safeguards apply. 

"The European Union makes citizens lives easier, but it also works hard to make sure that criminals do not take advantage of the benefits it provides. Cooperation in criminal justice, including through the sharing of information on convictions and the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders is essential to achieve this. These tools will allow us to ensure that criminals cannot just escape their past by moving to a different country or taking their assets across borders and continue with their activities."

Urmas Reinsalu, Estonian Minister for Justice

Fundamental rights

The Council adopted conclusions on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2016. These conclusions reflect some of the most pertinent issues, such as fight against racism and violence against women..

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