Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2010 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 709 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(99) 512 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2000) 712 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1755 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1411 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1208 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]
In its Opinion of July 1997 the European Commission considered that Slovenian policies on immigration and work permits were restrictive, but it noted that amendments to the law were being drafted. As regards justice and home affairs, the Commission found that Slovenia had, for the most part, demonstrated its capacity to make progress on key issues such as immigration and border controls. Assuming progress was made on other issues (especially with regard to the judiciary, right of asylum and systems to tackle organised crime), Slovenia should be in line with the EU rules on justice and home affairs within the next few years.
The November 1998 Report noted that, except as regards the police, Slovenia had made significant progress. However, if it were to attain the medium-term objectives set out in the Accession Partnership, it needed to make a substantial effort in the areas of legislative policy (adoption of international conventions and adjustments to domestic laws) and human resources. Staffing levels therefore had to be increased to cope with enforcing new legislation.
In 1999 the Commission found that Slovenia had made considerable progress in adopting and reviewing legal instruments and in setting up new structures in the fields of immigration and asylum rights. Budget resources had been made available and Slovenia now had to complete the alignment of its legislation, particularly in the areas of border controls and drugs.
In its November 2000 Report the Commission noted that Slovenia had made considerable progress in nearly every area. The harmonisation of legislation and the strengthening of the administration had been priorities for the Slovenian Government. Nevertheless, further efforts were needed to improve external border controls.
In its November 2001 Report the Commission found that Slovenia had made some progress in justice and home affairs since the previous report, especially in strengthening the administration.
The October 2002 Report concludes that further progress has been made in the fields of data protection, migration, asylum, police cooperation, and the fight against organised crime. However, the situation as regards drugs has barely changed.
In its November 2003 Report the Commission noted that Slovenian legislation was almost entirely aligned on the acquis. A few adjustments remain to be made in the institutional rules for data protection and in the Criminal Code
Free movement of persons
The principle of free movement and the right to residence of all European citizens is provided for by Article 14 (former Article 7a) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty), as well as by the provisions on European citizenship (Article 18, former Article 8a). Among the matters of common interest to the Member States, the Maastricht Treaty included asylum policy, the crossing of the external borders of the Union and immigration policy. The Amsterdam Treaty, which came into force on 1 May 1999, incorporated these into the EC Treaty (Articles 61 to 69). Free movement of persons is a key element of an " area of freedom, security and justice ".
Member States already apply common rules in these areas under the Schengen agreements. These intergovernmental agreements have been incorporated into the European Union following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty and now form part of the Community acquis to be adopted by the applicant countries. However, most of the Schengen acquis will not be applied to the new Member States as soon as they join but later, once this has been specifically decided by the Council. This is the aim of the plan of action for adopting the Schengen criteria on the basis of a realistic timetable for implementing the Schengen Agreement.
The binding rules which new Member States must have in place as soon as they join include some of the rules on visas, the rules governing external borders and migration, asylum, police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, terrorism, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking, customs cooperation and legal instruments relating to human rights. As regards such issues as border control, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, money laundering, organised crime, police and legal cooperation, data protection and mutual recognition of court judgments, the new Member States should be administratively capable of dealing with them. It is also crucially important to organise the judiciary and the police in an independent, reliable and effective manner.
European asylum policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty, has been a Community as well as a national responsibility since the Amsterdam Treaty came into force in 1999.
At the Tampere European Council in October 1999, the European Union leaders decided on a two-stage strategy, with the second stage being aimed at setting up a common European asylum system based on a common asylum procedure and equal asylum status valid throughout the European Union. The first stage - laying down minimum rules - should be operational by 1 May 2004.
Much has been achieved, including:
- the establishment of a European Refugee Fund;
- the adoption of a specific temporary protection system in the case of a massive influx of displaced persons;
- the definition of the State responsible for vetting asylum requests;
- the start-up of the " Eurodac " system of finger-print comparison for asylum seekers within the European Union.
Negotiations are still under way regarding certain aspects, such as the proposed directive on refugee status and the procedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status.
Immigration policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty and a Community responsibility since the Amsterdam Treaty, is currently being drawn up. Article 63 of the EC Treaty states that the Council is to adopt, within a period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (i.e. by 1 May 2004):
- measures relating to conditions of entry and residence and to procedures in Member States issuing long-term visas and residence permits, including those for the purpose of family reunion;
- measures defining the rights and conditions under which nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State may reside in other Member States.
As regards "legal immigration", the Conclusions of the Tampere European Council state that the European Union should:
- approximate national legislations on the conditions for admission and residence of third-country nationals;
- ensure fair treatment of third-country nationals who reside legally on the territory of its Member States;
- step up its efforts to ensure the integration of immigrants.
As regards "illegal immigration", the Tampere European Council agreed in 1999 to combat illegal immigration and the organised crime which takes advantage of it. In February 2002 the "plan of action to fight illegal immigration" was adopted.
Judicial cooperation in civil matters
The main instruments to facilitate civil judicial cooperation have been drafted at international level (the Brussels and Rome Conventions, for example). The Maastricht Treaty was an important first step, providing a legal basis for judicial cooperation in civil matters between Member States and allowing the adoption of several conventions. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which places judicial cooperation in civil matters at Community level, these conventions have been gradually replaced by regulations of which the most significant are:
- the Regulation on the service in the Member States of documents in civil or commercial matters in the European Union;
- the Regulation concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility.
In 1999 the Tampere European Council described the principle of mutual recognition as the cornerstone of the construction of the area of freedom, security and justice. Finally, the Nice treaty extended co-decision to judicial cooperation in all civil matters except family law.
Police, customs and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
The existing legislation in these fields stems mainly from the cooperation framework defined in Title VI of the European Union Treaty or the " third pillar ". The Amsterdam Treaty amended the legal provisions in the matter by creating a link with the " area of freedom, security and justice ". Now Title VI deals mainly with police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against corruption and fraud, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and customs cooperation.
The objective of setting up an area of freedom, security and justice (set by the Amsterdam Treaty) should be achieved by:
- closer cooperation between police forces and customs authorities through the European Police Office (Europol);
- closer cooperation between judicial authorities including cooperation through the European Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), which was set up by the Nice Treaty;
- approximation, where necessary, of the rules on criminal matters in the Member States;
- mutual recognition of decisions (European arrest warrant).
The existing legislation relating to justice and home affairs presupposes a high degree of specific cooperation between government departments as well as the preparation and effective application of rules and regulations. To this end, several programmes have been launched in recent years: Grotius II-Criminal, OISIN II, Stop II, Hippokrates and Falcone. All of these programmes have been taken on by AGIS, a single framework programme for co-financing projects submitted by promoters from Member States and the applicant countries in the fields of justice and home affairs.
The Europe Agreement and the White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market
The Europe Agreement with Bulgaria includes provision for cooperation in the fight against drug abuse and money laundering.
The White Paper does not deal directly with third-pillar subjects, but reference is made to matters such as money laundering and freedom of movement of persons, which are closely related to justice and home affairs considerations.
The Protection of Personal Data Act was amended in June 2001. The Classified Information Act, which regulates the protection of classified information in state institutions, was adopted in October 2001. The Government Office for the Protection of Classified Data was established in March 2002. The supervisory authorities consist of a Deputy Ombudsman for data protection and an inspectorate in the Ministry of Justice. The Commission notes that data protection legislation has now been aligned on Community law.
Slovenia's visa policy is fully aligned on the EU. Slovenia had adopted provisions in January 2001 concerning the issuing of visas at border posts, the issuing of visas on humanitarian grounds and the withdrawal of visas. The new Slovenian passport was introduced in March 2001. In November 2001 Slovenia and Bulgaria signed an agreement on abolition of visas and cooperation in a number of areas.
Progress has been made in the area of external border controls. Given that Slovenia is increasingly used as a transit country by illegal immigrants, the Commission believes that priority should be given to tightening controls. New legislation determining the authorities responsible for border checks and surveillance came into force in January 2003. In April 2003 a cross-border police cooperation agreement with Croatia came into force. Similar agreements are in preparation with Austria and Hungary. Regarding implementation, Slovenia is currently upgrading its border surveillance equipment, particularly at sea borders, and setting up border crossing points on its borders with Croatia. A specialised unit responsible for border controls in general was created within the General Police Directorate in June 2002.
The Schengen action plan, which was adopted by Slovenia in May 2001, lays down recruitment and training requirements for the period 2000-05 in order to ensure adequate controls. Changes were made to recruitment programmes in 2003. Regarding the Schengen Information System (SIS II- 133183), preparations for integrations are proceeding as planned.
Alignment on the acquis has been completed as regards immigration. The Employment of Third Country Nationals Act entered into force in January 2001, and in September 2001 the amendments to the Act relating to family unification, the employment of third country nationals and carriers' liability were adopted. In addition, Slovenia has concluded readmission agreements with twenty-three countries (including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France and Greece). In November 2001 the Government approved a protocol on the implementation of the readmission agreement between Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A readmission agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina was signed in March.
The Asylum Act was amended for the first time in December 2000. Amendments concerning inter alia the granting of asylum on humanitarian grounds were introduced in July 2001. Slovenia adopted provisions on procedures for the reception and accommodation of foreigners in residential centres in October 2000. In 2003 the asylum-seekers' centre in Ljubljana was separated from the foreigners centre (centre for illegal immigrants). The capacity of foreigners and asylum-seekers reception centres is constantly rising. In July 2002 amendments to the Temporary Protection Act were adopted with the aim of improving the status of the displaced persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina who have had temporary protection status for up to 10 years.
With regard to police cooperation, the police force has been reorganised and specialised units set up, for example to deal with organised crime. In October 2001 Slovenia concluded a cooperation agreement with Europol, which was ratified by the Parliament in February 2002. Implementation of the agreement has started and an information link has been established with Europol headquarters.
Cooperation with Europol proceeds smoothly. Liaison officers are being seconded abroad. As for interinstitutional cooperation, an agreement has been signed between the police and the customs administration regarding crime detection and prevention.
Cooperation with other police forces in Member States has continued. Joint patrols have been set up to police the most sensitive areas of the Italo-Slovenian border. Slovenia has ratified a cooperation agreement with Romania on combating organised crime. The agreement with Bulgaria on the fight against organised crime, illicit drugs, trafficking of precursors, and terrorism, signed in November 2001, was ratified in February 2002. A cooperation agreement on fighting organised crime was signed with Estonia in June 2002. Slovenia is both a country of transit and a country of destination for the trafficking of human beings, and will therefore have to step up its efforts in this field.
Concerning the fight against terrorism, Slovenia signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in November 2001.
Slovenia ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in September 2001, but the Criminal Code has not been aligned on international provisions. However, the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption was ratified in March and came into force in April 2003. New and extensive legislation on corruption is now being debated in Parliament. A Corruption Prevention Office has been set up. The police force has been reorganised and specialist units have been set up with a view to tackling fraud more effectively. In 2003 the National Corruption Prevention Office worked up a comprehensive strategy against fraud and corruption involving a set of specialised units in the police force.
A new information unit in the Ministry of Health is responsible for gathering and exchanging information with a view to combating drugs. Further efforts are needed given that drugs using the Balkan route transit via Slovenia, which is increasingly becoming a country of consumption. Some institutional changes have been made, such as the incorporation of the National Drugs Bureau into the Ministry of Health in January 2004 but Parliament has still not adopted the national drugs prevention programme for 2003-2008.
A new law on money laundering was adopted in September 2001. Amendments to it were adopted in June, and the legislation is now fully in line with the acquis.
Regarding customs cooperation, Slovenia has ratified agreements on mutual assistance with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Norway. The 2003 Report highlights the excellent cooperation with OLAF.
With regard to judicial cooperation, Slovenia has ratified the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and its additional Protocol. Extradition agreements have been concluded with Austria, Croatia, France, FYROM, Germany, Italy, Romania and Turkey. In 2002 it signed, but did not ratify, the 1972 Convention of the transmission of criminal proceedings.
In the human rights field, Slovenia has ratified all the relevant legal instruments within the framework of the JHA acquis.
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.