8 October 2021
-13:05 Public session
-17:15 Press conference (Home Affairs)
Ministers held a debate on pre-trial detention, an issue which has an impact on individual freedoms and is also important for mutual trust and mutual recognition.
Detention is at the heart of the criminal justice system, but differences in detention conditions can have an impact on mutual trust and therefore could pose an obstacle to cooperation in criminal matters across the EU. Today’s fruitful discussion reflected our joint commitment to continue improving detention conditions and will serve as a guidance for further work by the Commission in this area.
Marjan Dikaučič, Minister for Justice of Slovenia
Ministers focused in particular on which minimum standards for material detention conditions and procedural rights in pre-trial detention should be prioritised in order to enhance mutual trust between member states. They also discussed what further actions at EU level could help improve detention conditions or enhance the use of alternative measures to detention.
European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO)
The Commission and the presidency informed ministers about the latest developments regarding the setting up of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO). The European Chief Prosecutor also attended the discussion on this point.
The EPPO started its operations on 1 June and is already carrying out a number of investigations in relation to cases which fall under its mandate.
Work also continues in a number of areas including the adaptation of national justice systems to the EPPO regulation, the appointment of the European Delegated Prosecutors and staff recruitment. Within the Council, work is ongoing on the relations of the EPPO with third countries and international organisations.
Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP)
Before the meeting, ministers attended a working lunch to discuss the issue of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) and the need to protect journalists from abusive litigation.
As announced under the European democracy action plan published in December 2020, the Commission is preparing an initiative to protect journalists and rights defenders against this type of abusive litigation. To contribute to the preparation of this initiative, ministers focused on national experience and good practices in fighting SLAPP, as well as on the cross border dimension of this phenomenon.
Infographic - EU blue card
The Council is expected to adopt the blue card directive without discussion. The new rules establish the entry and residence conditions for highly qualified non-EU nationals coming to live and work in the EU, and aim to attract and retain highly qualified workers, particularly in sectors facing skills shortages.
The Council presidency and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the draft directive in May 2021.
Screening and detention at borders
Home affairs ministers will discuss the challenges raised by screening and detention of migrants. They will focus on what common EU action is required to address security challenges at the EU external borders and whether solutions should be sought in the framework of the proposed regulation on screening.
Situation in Afghanistan
Ministers will also receive an update on the situation in Afghanistan with regard to international protection, migration and security.
At their extraordinary meeting on 31 August 2021, they adopted a statement highlighting the need to continue coordination with international partners on stabilisation of the region and ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches vulnerable people.
They also stated the need to continue cooperation to prevent illegal migration from the region and to effectively protect the EU’s external borders and prevent unauthorised entry. In the statement, ministers also stressed that the EU and its member states would do their utmost to ensure that the situation in Afghanistan did not lead to new security threats for EU citizens.
Infographic - Migration flows: Eastern, Central and Western routes
Situation on various migration routes
Home affairs ministers will exchange views on the situation on various migration routes.
The number of illegal border crossings at the EU’s external borders in the first eight months of 2021 was 64% higher than one year ago when COVID-19 restrictions were in place. However, overall the numbers of irregular migrants remain significantly below the levels prior to the 2015 crisis.
External dimension of migration
The Commission and the Slovenian presidency will also inform ministers about progress on the development of migration action plans for priority countries of origin and transit.
In June 2021, the European Council called for such action plans to be put forward and to include clear objectives, additional support measures and concrete timelines.
Ministers will hold a debate on the digital dimension of investigating child sexual abuse and will exchange of views on the implementation of the various justice and home affairs databases and the interoperability framework.
-7 October 2021
-8 October 2021