TALLINN - Estonian Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani took part in an informal meeting of EU's home affairs ministers in France, the agenda for which included ways for improving the functioning of the Schengen area and moving forward with the Pact on Migration and Asylum announced in fall 2020.
The Schengen reform as one of the priorities of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union was also in focus at the home affairs ministers meeting. The proposal by France to convene a so-called Schengen council with the purpose of strengthening the political management of the EU's border-free Schengen zone was approved by the home affairs ministers. While the content and focus of the format has yet to be established, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the council's inaugural meeting could take place when the EU's justice and home affairs ministers next gather, on March 3.
The afternoon of the home affairs ministers meeting focused on the Pact on Migration and Asylum. The presidency has proposed a step-by-step approach to moving forward with the stalemate on the migration package, which initially means only partial agreements. The new approach was endorsed by all ministers.
In his speech, Estonian minister of the interior, Kristian Jaani, said that when it comes to improving the management of migration, it is important to contribute, above all, to the external dimension of migration and to the development of partnerships with third countries, as this will help reduce migration flows and increase the efficiency of returns.
The interior minister said that relocation as a measure of solidarity is still the most sensitive issue for Estonia.
"Member states under migratory pressure must get help but the ways help is provided must remain flexible. We cannot forget that the needs of states experiencing migratory pressure as well as the means of states providing assistance are different. It must therefore be possible for countries to provide support through measures other than relocation," Jaani said.
In his speech, Jaani said that while the situation currently looks calm on the border of the European Union and Belarus, vigilance must be maintained and the situation must also be monitored in the context of Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
Topics discussed at the meeting also included the protection of the European Union's population in the context of climate change and the fight against radicalization.
The next EU home affairs ministers meeting is to be held in Brussels on March 3.