Speech by Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas, Minister of Interior, at the European Parliament, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee

09 July 2013, Last updated at, 15:04 EEST
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D.A. Barakauskas | author: 15min/Scanpix

Thank you Mr. Chairman, honourable members of the European Parliament, members of the Civil Liberties committee. I am really delighted to be here before you today representing the Council of the EU. Thank you for this opportunity to present to you the priorities and plans of the Lithuanian Presidency in the area of Home Affairs and the main challenges ahead of us during the next half of the year.

As you know, this is the first time since Lithuania’s accession to the EU in 2004 that we’re taking over the Presidency of the EU Council. This is a great honour and a perfect opportunity to represent Lithuania. But at the same time it is quite a big challenge for our country. Knowing the responsibility falling upon us we have devoted special attention and a lot of efforts to prepare for this important event. I am confident that we are fully prepared to ensure smooth and effective functioning of the EU Council together with close and efficient cooperation with Members of this Parliament. Consistency and continuity of work, honest brokering and inclusion of all the relevant actors in this process – these are the main guiding principles for our presidency striving for our prime goal of building a CREDIBLE, GROWING and OPEN Europe.

We will continue the implementation of the 18 month TRIO presidency programme of the EU Council and work towards achievement of its main goals. We will actively seek to progress in the negotiation processes giving priority to the objectives that are most pressing at this time, namely the task of strengthening the Union's capacity to respond to the current economic, financial and social challenges. The Council’s work in the area of Home Affairs will no doubt be strongly aligned to the achievement of these goals and built upon the principles that I have mentioned earlier.

I would like to stress that after the Lisbon treaty, close cooperation between the Council and the Parliament became even more important to ensure efficient implementation of the EU’s legislative agenda in the area of Justice and Home Affairs. On our ability to work together successfully, rests the security, safety and welfare of more than 500 million EU citizens and all the visitors of the Union, as well as protection of their principle rights and freedoms. We owe it to the citizens of Europe to deliver the results that they rightly expect of us.

As the current legislative cycle is nearing its end and Lithuania is the last presidency to serve the full half year term before the incoming European Parliament elections, I see a clear mutual interest to finalize negotiations on as may legislative proposals as possible. We are ready to be an honest representative of the Council and to put all efforts in finding solutions that are effective and equally acceptable to both sides. I sincerely believe that European Parliament is in the same open spirit for active and constructive cooperation. My colleague, the Justice Minister, and I are here not just to tell you about our priorities, but also to hear from you what your priorities and concerns are. It is important that we understand each other from the outset, and that we establish the best possible basis for a genuine partnership between us.


I would like to start my presentation of our priorities in the Home Affairs area by outlining several horizontal issues that at this time are especially important to the JHA area as a whole.

One of such issues, no doubt, is the ongoing negotiations on the new Multiannual financial framework. To secure a sound continuity of financial support for the instruments implementing EU’s policy goals in the area of Home Affairs, a final agreement must be reached on all financial regulations for home Affairs by the end of this year at the latest. I can promise from my side that we will put all efforts into working with you to finalize the negotiations on the remaining unsolved issues and seek to adopt all the legislative acts required for sound financing of Home Affairs in the new financial perspective.

Stockholm programme is still an essential overall basement for the continued development of an area of freedom, security and justice, which is one of the core objectives of the EU. Further implementation of this programme and the agenda set by it will remain a key objective for the EU Council’s work in the JHA area during the course of our presidency.

At the same time we have to bear in mind that 2014 is the last year for the Stockholm programme. This not only forces us to pursue its successful implementation more actively, but also to start contemplating about possible future goals for EU policy in the JHA area. Following the latest conclusions of the European Council we will initiate political discussions on the possible guidelines for further development of EU policy in the JHA area through evaluation of the achievements to this end and strategic result oriented approach. This issue is on the agenda for the informal JHA ministers meeting in Vilnius on July 18-19 and I really hope to see you there as well Mr. Aguilar.


In the area of Home Affairs our Presidency will devote particular attention to the issues of external border protection, legal migration, law enforcement cooperation and fight against organized crime and terrorism. So now I would like to speak in a more detail about the main initiatives and our priorities in each of these areas as well as the plans and goals of our presidency in relation to them.


One of the main priorities for the Lithuanian presidency will be the Effective management and protection of EU’s external borders. This can significantly contribute to the goal of making Europe more OPEN, CREDIBLE and safe. Creation of effective external border management is not only the interest of Shengen area countries, but of all the states that have lifted the controls at their internal borders or are going to do that in the future. External border management is an effective tool for the fight against various forms of crime such as terrorism, illegal migration and international crime, and strengthening the overall internal security in the EU.

Therefore we plan to devote a lot of time and effort for the deliberation of the “Smart borders” legislative package. The first positions of the Member States in the Council have shown that there are considerable concerns regarding the possible balance between the costs and benefits of the proposed systems, especially of the Registered travellers programme. It is obvious that the negotiations are going to be quite difficult. With that in mind we have planned an intensive schedule for the deliberation of the “smart borders” package in the Council’s working parties to achieve maximum possible progress.

Another item on the agenda is the Proposal for a Regulation establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders in the context of operational cooperation coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Members States of the European Union. We fully realize the importance of this legislation and will put all efforts that the ruling of the Court of Justice would be fully implemented as soon as possible.

Herewith I would like to express my gratitude and congratulations to the Irish Presidency and to you in the European Parliament on finding the solution for the Shengen governance legislative package, which will hopefully allow us to reopen the frozen negotiations on other important legislative proposals.


To make Europe more OPEN it is critically important to plan and implement effective migration policy. I am convinced that fair and trustworthy citizens from third countries coming to work and study in the EU should be granted facilitated arrival and travel procedures. Effective migration management policy would also contribute to the recovering economy of the EU and help to satisfy the specific needs of the labour market, thus benefiting the GROWTH of Europe.

That’s why advancement of legislation in the area of legal migration will be a priority for our Presidency. It is delighting that during the Irish presidency negotiations with the Parliament on seasonal workers directive were practically concluded and there was a great push towards an agreement on the directive of inter-corporate transferees. The excellent work of your rapporteurs, Mr Iacolino and Mr Moraes, gives us a strong foundation to continue the negotiations and I hope that by working together actively we can find solutions to the remaining details and these directives can be adopted soon. We will also look forward to working with Ms Wikström in examining the students and researchers directive and seek to progress on it as much as possible.

Of course, we will also pay due attention to the issues of illegal migration. In this area I would highlight the update of the EU action plan “EU Action on Migratory Pressures - Strategic Response“.


The Growing openness of the EU also calls for intensified actions to ensure the security of our citizens and the guests of the Union. Only by guaranteeing security can we maintain credibility of the EU. Therefore the initiatives that aim to improve law enforcement cooperation and strengthen the fight against serious and organized crime and terrorism will also be among the top priorities of our presidency.

One of particularly significant initiatives in this regard is the Proposal for the regulation on the European Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training (Europol). It is a first important legislative file since Lisbon Treaty, affecting core of EU law enforcement cooperation in fight against serious and organized international crime and internal security issues in general. I know that European Parliament is taking a very serious and responsible attitude towards this initiative as well. The Council has also started intensive work to examine and deliberate the proposal on an expert level.

The discussions in the last JHA Council in Luxembourg have shown that the majority of Member states are against the proposal to merge CEPOL into EUROPOL. I want to assure you that our presidency will seek to achieve substantial progress through intensive examination of the proposal in the Council on expert as well as political level.

Another legislative file that is particularly important to many Member States is the EU passenger name record (PNR) directive. PNR data transfer mechanism is already functioning through EU’s bilateral agreements with USA, Canada and Australia. Therefore, in my opinion, it is vital to have EU’s internal legislation for PNR data as well. We put a lot of expectations in further negotiations with the Parliament on this sensitive issue. I believe that through mutual constructive discussions we can find a solution that would ensure maximum security of personal data.

Terrorism remains one of the most substantial and perilous threats to security of the European Union and its citizens. Therefore our presidency will devote relevant attention to the issue of counter-terrorism putting emphasis on certain aspects of prevention of violent extremism, radicalisation, recruitment to terrorism and terrorist financing, as well as the sensitive issue of so called foreign fighters.

Security in cyber space is a very complex and rapidly growing challenge, therefore our presidency will work actively in this area as well. We plan to discuss the issue of cyber security in the informal JHA ministers meeting in Vilnius and in numerous other relevant formats. I would also like to stress that cyber security is a challenge of a global nature. Therefore we will put efforts to find solutions not only internally but through international cooperation with EU’s strategic partners as well.


We will seek to advance the development of the EU external policy in the area of Justice and Home Affairs by strengthening sartorial cooperation with third countries and continuing political dialogues with the main strategic partners of the EU. We plan to hold the traditional JHA ministerial meetings with US, Russia and Western Balkans.

In the course of or presidency we also see a good opportunity to advance and strengthen cooperation in this area with the Eastern partnership countries. We aim to extend the area of our internal security beyond the external borders of the EU by building mutual trust and credibility. In this light we are planning to hold the first EU – Eastern partnership JHA ministerial meeting to discuss the prospects of closer cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs.

Honourable members of the Parliament, thank you very much for your attention. Now I would like to give the floor to my colleague Lithuanian minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis, who will present the priorities of our presidency in the area of Justice.

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