Hojs says EURODAC reform elusive during Slovenia’s presidency

Brussels – Interior Minister Aleš Hojs expressed the hope that progress could still be made by the end of 2021 on changes to the European Asylum Dactyloscopy Database (EURODAC), a part of the new Migration Pact. He noted that there would not be a major breakthrough regarding the pact during the Slovenian EU presidency and it had not been expected either.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels, the EU interior ministers reviewed the situation regarding the talks on the comprehensive Migration Pact, which would not bring a breakthrough during the Slovenian presidency.

Six years have passed since the great migration crisis in the EU, and there is still disagreement among member states on the key issue of relocation of migrants who have taken refuge in the countries that have the external border of the EU.

The Slovenian EU presidency has been making effort to make progress on individual dossiers, and in particular it has expected progress towards a regulation that would reform the European fingerprint database.

Hojs said today that progress could be detected and expressed the hope for progress on the EURODAC by the end of the year, as the vast majority of member states were now ready to accept the proposal that the pact should not be discussed as a whole.

The ministers also discussed the perceived exploitation of migrants for political purposes and migration as a tool for hybrid attacks by Belarus, which they believe exploits migrants to put pressure on the EU, which imposes sanctions on the country.

The EU intends to legally define exploitation of migrants for political purposes as part of the planned revision of the Schengen Borders Code, but the Commission has postponed the presentation of the reform proposal from this week to next.

Hojs noted that while the migration situation on the EU’s border with Belarus was calming down, focus needed to be switched to other hot spots. The situation in Cyprus, for example, is very serious, he said.

According to the minister, the European Commission should include Cyprus in the proposal for derogation from the asylum rules in the event of a hybrid attack that it presented earlier this month for Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

“The Commission’s proposal is not enough, as it has forgotten about some member states,” said Hojs.

He added that many ministers had noted the problem of secondary migration and that this should be taken into account when looking for a balance between responsibility and solidarity in the Migration Pact.

Hojs also reiterated that he supported the call to secure EU funding of physical barriers on borders, adding that not only fences should be installed, but a wider range of border control means introduced, such as drones and video surveillance.

As for the achievements of the Slovenian EU presidency, he singled out the August statement by the interior ministers on Afghanistan that called for the uncontrolled influx of illegal migration from this country to be prevented.

While this triggered a criticism in the European Parliament, Hojs labelled the statement as a “decisive moment of consensus that the doors of Europe will not be as open as they were in 2015.”