On June 19, 2019, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted the E.U.-U.S. Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Bucharest, Romania. The meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to take stock of their long-standing cooperation in this area and to reaffirm their partnership in addressing common security threats.
The U.S. was represented by the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, and Acting Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, David Pekoske.
The E.U., hosting the meeting, was represented by the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, the Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, as well as the Romanian Vice Prime Minister ad interim and Minister of Justice, Ana Birchall, and the Minister of Interior, Carmen Daniela Dan, together with the Finnish Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo, and the Minister of Justice, Anna-Maja Henriksson, on behalf of the current and incoming Presidencies of the Council of the European Union.
The E.U. and the U.S. reaffirmed that fighting terrorism is among their top priorities and committed to enhance their joint efforts, including by expanding the sharing of information gathered in zones of combat for use in investigations and prosecutions. Participants welcomed results already achieved in this domain, including in cooperation with Europol and Eurojust, and looked forward to the outcome of the meeting to be held on this subject that will bring together E.U. and U.S. experts in Brussels on July 10. With regard to other critical areas of E.U.-U.S. information sharing, Participants of the meeting reiterated the importance of the E.U.-U.S. Passenger Name Record agreement and committed to begin a joint evaluation to assess its implementation. The E.U. and the U.S. also discussed current threats to aviation security, including unmanned aircraft systems; combating the use of the internet for terrorist purposes; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.
The E.U. and the U.S. also discussed the priority area of security in cyberspace. Participants committed to further joint efforts to maintain a safe, open, and secure cyberspace, and exchanged views on how to best address growing cyber threats. Participants recognized that the deployment of 5G network infrastructure needs to be addressed as a matter of priority, as it might pose significant security risks and impact the ability of law enforcement agencies to take effective action against crime. The E.U. and the U.S. committed to further pursue their exchanges on assessing and managing 5G and supply chain security risks through existing channels, including the Justice and Home Affairs meetings.
The E.U. and the U.S. also recognized the importance of swift cross-border access to electronic evidence, and discussed the implications of recent legislation enacted in the U.S. and legislation under examination in the E.U. Participants acknowledged the recent approval by the Council of the European Union of a mandate authorizing the Commission to negotiate on behalf of the E.U. an agreement with the U.S. facilitating access to e-evidence for the purpose of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as well as the steps being taken by the U.S. towards opening negotiations of such an agreement, in a manner consistent with their respective legislations.
The E.U. and the U.S. also reviewed the unprecedented challenges faced by electoral systems in democratic states, which call for exchanges of best practices to overcome those challenges. Participants confirmed their commitment to further discuss an expert level dialogue.
The U.S. and the E.U. briefed each other on recent developments in their migration and border management policies; in particular, the E.U. provided information on the reinforced mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) and on the implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), two instruments which will further strengthen the E.U.'s border management. Both sides concurred on the vital importance of preventing and combating migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings and discussed further joint work in these areas.
Finally, the E.U. and the U.S. agreed on the importance of advancing further towards reciprocal visa free travel under their respective legal frameworks and, following the May 2019 meeting on visa reciprocity between the U.S., the E.U. and the concerned Member States, welcomed the progress of the five concerned Member States towards meeting the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program, in order to be considered for designation in the program.
Reaffirming their commitment to advance together towards common solutions in these areas, the E.U. and the U.S. committed to meet again in the second half of 2019 in Washington, D.C.
The meeting was also attended by the E.U. Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, the Executive Director of Europol, Catherine De Bolle, the Executive Director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, and the Vice-President of Eurojust, Klaus Meyer-Cabri.