Ljubljana – Interior Minister Aleš Hojs singled out a joint statement the EU home ministers adopted on the crisis in Afghanistan in August, and their December endorsement of the position that Croatia is prepared to join the Schengen zone as two of the major achievements of Slovenia’s EU presidency in home affairs.
There seems to be a possibility that all procedures for Croatia’s Schengen zone entry could be completed during France’s presidency in the first half of 2022, Hojs said at a news conference in Ljubljana on Wednesday.
It is nevertheless not realistic to expect it to join the passport-free zone before 1 January 2023. While Hojs would like Croatia to join as of 2023, he said this expectation is perhaps a bit too optimistic.
He announced he will “do all in my power for this deadlined to be reached” while he is still a member of the Council of the EU during France’s presidency.
As for the joint statement on Afghanistan, which expresses determination to prevent uncontrolled illegal migration from this country, Hojs said that after many years, the home affairs ministers had managed to agree to take a different approach to potential migrations than during the last migration crisis in 2015.
Touching on the migration crisis on the border between Belarus and the Baltic states and Poland, he said “in these six months we have turned the things around”.
“One of the key things we’ve achieved is that everyone, and particularly EU diplomats, started realising things must be addressed at their causes, and not consequences.”
On the other hand, the EU member states have not managed to reach a consensus on changes to the Eurodac database as part of talks on the new migration and asylum policy.
Hojs noted the Med5 Mediterranean countries and the Visegrad Group countries insisted the entire migration and asylum package must be adopted in one go, not part by part, which he thinks could continue lowering the chances of agreement.
A major disappointment of Slovenia’s presidency in home affairs is meanwhile the failure to complete all three trialogues on Europol’s powers.
While two trialogues have been successfully completed, France eventually withdrew its approval for the third one, explained Hojs.
“I think they simply wanted to keep something for their own presidency,” he commented on France’s move, adding Slovenia had made major progress so France could complete the trialogue in a relatively short time.
“It is my assessment that we have exceeded our plans, not in the planned direction but in some other directions which were a result of certain circumstances. Our ministry can be extremely satisfied with the presidency and the work done,” Hojs said.