TALLINN - Estonian Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani discussed key issues in EU internal affairs with his Slovenian counterpart Ales Hojs, who is currently on a visit to Estonia.
Jaani introduced to his Slovenian colleague Estonia's expectations for strengthening police cooperation in the Schengen area and the European Union, spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior said.
"The European Commission has promised to present its proposals for a reform in the Schengen area at the end of May, and during the Slovenian presidency, discussions will continue over the draft EU Pact on Migration and Asylum and regulation proposals relating to the mandate of Europol announced in December 2020. In December this year, the European Commission is expected to deliver proposals for reforming police cooperation in the European Union," Jaani said, adding that he greatly appreciates the opportunity to discuss priorities in the field with the state holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union during the next period.
Jaani added that Estonia deems it important for the Schengen Borders Code to be amended to include a minimum standard for guarding the external border of the European Union in order to ensure a uniform high level of border control.
"Requirements for border crossing have been described in great detail in the European Union, meanwhile the are no minimum criteria for guarding the external border of the European Union," Jaani said. "We also discussed the reform package for EU police cooperation, the central part of which is the proposal for drawing up a European police code. With regard to the latter, Estonia's preliminary interest is to ensure that the harmonization of regulatory framework should not prevent regional police cooperation that already functions well, such as that between the Baltic states," he said.
Hojs said that addressing the external dimension of migration is important for both Slovenia and Estonia.
"Eliminating the cause of irregular migration as well as improving the return of [third country nationals] is extremely important for Slovenia. As to solidarity, we agree that it should be flexible and include a variety of measures for helping member states under migratory pressure," he said.
Jaani noted that the two ministers discussed that the police cooperation reform could prove an opportunity to start a discussion at EU level on creating an option to include official volunteers in police service in cross-border police cooperation, for instance in joint patrols, responding to events in border areas, improving crisis management and other joint activities.
Participants in the meeting also included head of the office for international cooperation at the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board Reet Zeisig and senior official at the border inspection point in Southeast Estonia Peter Maran, who gave an overview of the planned ESTPOL4 mission to Slovenia. In response to Slovenia's request for help in guarding the border under migratory pressure, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board will send to Slovenia up to four rotating teams at the interior minister's approval. The teams will be tasked with participating in land patrols near the Slovenian and Croatian border areas.
"Estonia helped Slovenia ensure public order during the 2015-2016 migration crisis, and we're also ready to do so now. By helping and supporting others, we're building good prospects of our allies also supporting us during difficult times, should we need assistance. Working in an international environment also provides our experts an opportunity to gain experience," Jaani said.
Hojs thanked Estonia for responding to Slovenia's request for assistance.
The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union ends on June 30, after which Slovenia is to take over the presidency for the next six months.