Priority issues in the area of migration and security were discussed at this week’s Justice and Home Affairs Council Meeting (6-7 December). Migration issues on the agenda included the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and new measures to fight against people smuggling networks.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council reached partial agreement on returns and cooperation with third countries, covering provisions linked to return and cooperation with third countries.
- The proposed rules will allow Frontex to provide technical and operational support to member states in return operations. The agency will also be able to assist member states in the identification of third country nationals and the acquisition of travel documents.
- The proposed rules will contribute to strengthening cooperation with third countries, by giving the agency wider scope for action and by not limiting its possibilities for cooperation with neighbouring countries.
The JHA Council also approved a set of measures to step up the fight against migrant smuggling by disrupting migrant smuggling networks, both inside and outside the EU. These measures build on ongoing efforts at EU and national level and draw on:
- enhanced inter-agency approach both at EU and national level
- making the best use of synergies between the operational tools available
- maximising the use of the external assets of the EU.
The JHA Council were updated on progress regarding the Commission proposal to reform the Return Directive. The discussions held so far indicate, by and large, a consensus on the direction of the revised Return Directive towards a more stringent approach to returns.
A progress report on the reform of the Common European Asylum System was also presented to the JHA Council.
Migration and external relations is on the agenda of the upcoming European Council on 13-14 December 2018.
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