Getting the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office operational, more efficient migration management and enhanced security for European citizens were among priorities for the Bulgarian EU Presidency, presented to a European Parliament committee by Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva and Interior Minister Valentin Radev.
Tsacheva and Radev addressed on January 11 members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), presenting the Bulgarian Presidency priorities in the areas of Justice and Home Affairs. The meeting was held on the day Bulgaria formally takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
Tsacheva said: “Bulgaria took the chair of the Council at a time when Europe and the European citizens need more stability, security and solidarity. The goals have been outlined, the tasks are clear.
“Together with the European Parliament, we will work to implement the common European project, protect the fundamental rights of European citizens and strengthen security. We will find the agreement needed in the name of our common interest, for the sake of strengthening the European realm of freedom, security and justice.”
Tsacheva underlined Bulgaria’s ambition to institutionalise and make operational the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Bulgarian Presidency will also work hard to finalise the trilogue on the Eurojust Regulation. Bulgaria attaches great importance to the development of e-Justice.
The Bulgarian EU Presidency will continue the intense work on the Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications in order to achieve a common approach and start negotiations with the EP, a statement said.
Bulgaria attaches particular importance to the proposal for a Directive on Countering Money Laundering by Criminal Law and the Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of Freezing and Confiscation Orders.
“We will be actively working with the EP on the proposals for a Regulation and a Directive to extend the ECRIS system to include third-country nationals and stateless persons. The Presidency intends to achieve a common approach within the Council on the proposal for a Directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting non-cash means of payment.”
Interior Minister Radev said: “Over the past few years, the European Union has been faced with some serious challenges – complex threats to security, on the one hand, and unprecedented migratory pressure, on the other.
“Tackling those challenges required complex measures. A number of European mechanisms were strengthened, and at the same time new ones were developed and adopted. Now is the time to bring our solution-finding efforts to a successful outcome.”
The Bulgarian Presidency is taking a very responsible approach to this task, according to Radev.
“We are determined to make maximum progress and to offer common European solutions to provide for adequate responses to the current challenges.”
Bulgaria’s two main priorities in the area of security and home affairs are more efficient migration management and enhanced security for European citizens, Radev said.
In the area of migration management, the Presidency will work proactively on its external dimension, that is, tackling the root causes of migration, cooperation with third countries, return policy, and improving legal migration channels.
When it comes to the internal dimension, the Bulgarian EU Presidency will focus on finalising the reform of the Common European Asylum System.
Regarding security, the Bulgarian EU Presidency will direct its efforts towards the efficient implementation of the updated Internal Security Strategy and its three pillars: combatting organised crime, terrorism and cybercrime. Special attention will be paid to the process of achieving interoperability.
Work will be done to reach a political agreement on the changes to the Schengen Information System and the eu-LISA Regulation. Efforts will be made to agree within the Council on the new legislative package on the interoperability of European databases. A political agreement on the ETIAS System will also be sought as soon as possible, Radev told the European Parliament committee.
Radev also provided details of Bulgaria’s specific Presidency priority, the European perspective of the Western Balkans, and the link between the security situation in the region and the general security landscape in the EU.
Tsacheva and Radev were the first ministers to take the stage in the context of the traditional hearings at the start of each Presidency of the Council of the EU. Their colleagues will follow them in the third week of January, the statement said.
(Photo: European Parliament)