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Brussels, 7 December 2010

EU-US ministerial meeting on Justice and Home Affairs: 08-09 December 2010 in Washington

The biannual EU–US ministerial meeting on justice and home affairs will take place on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington. For Home Affairs issues, the European Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström. The EU delegation will include representatives of the Belgian Presidency, Minister for Home Affairs Annemie Turtelboom, Minister of Justice Stefaan De Clerck and the State Secretary for Migration and Asylum Melchior Wathelet. For the incoming Hungarian Presidency, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Administration and Justice Tibor Navracsics and Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér will participate. The US will be represented by the Attorney General Eric Holder and the Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "EU-US relations are critical for the freedom and security of our citizens. We have forged constructive cooperation in the home affairs area over the last years. The conclusion earlier this year of the TFTP Agreement is an example of that. Several issues that will be discussed during this ministerial meeting are also part of the main objectives identified by the EU Internal Security Strategy (ISS), demonstrating further the importance of our partnership in addressing common security challenges. One of these issues is cybercrime, and I welcome the setting up of an EU-US Working Group on cyber security and cybercrime, which will boost our cooperation on these issues and provide a timetable for concrete achievements to be made".

Main agenda items for the ministers in the field of Home Affairs:

  • - Cybercrime/Cyber security working group

  • - EU-US Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement

  • - "Toledo Statement" (including cargo security)

  • - Visa Waiver Program (and ESTA fee)

Cybercrime/Cyber security working group

Recognising the growing challenge of these issues, the last EU-US Summit held in Lisbon on 20 November 2010 (Joint EU-US Statement), established an EU-US Working Group on Cyber security and Cybercrime. This Working Group will address a number of specific priority areas and will report progress within a year

Commission position: Since cybercrime is one of the priority area of the EU Internal Security Strategy, the Commission welcomes the launch of this Working Group and believes it will help improve cooperation with one if its main international partners.

What is expected at this meeting? The terms of reference of the EU-US cyber security/cybercrime Working Group will be endorsed.

EU-US Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement

The Commission presented on 21 September a Communication on the global approach to transfers of PNR data to third countries alongside the three draft negotiating mandates for PNR agreements with the US, Canada an Australia. The Council adopted the mandates on 2 December

Commission position: Both sides have a common interest in swift conclusion of the new PNR agreement, which meets the shared security needs of the EU and the US, whilst fully respecting the privacy rights of passengers

What is expected at this meeting? EU and US authorities are expected to agree on the launch of the negotiations at political level.

"Toledo Statement" (including cargo security)

Last January, EU ministers of Interior and US Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano agreed on the Toledo Statement, which refers to specific measures in four areas: aviation security, information exchange, research and international activities. EU and US agreed a first joint report on the implementation of the Toledo Statement at the April 8-9 JHA Ministerial held in Madrid.  Closely linked to this issue, air cargo security, following recent incidents, will also be discussed.

Commission position: Following the endorsement at the last JHA Council of the EU High Level Working Group report on strengthening air cargo security (MEMO/10/625), the Commission is looking forward to discussing how concrete progress can be made also on the measures agreed in the Toledo Statement.

What is expected at this meeting? EU and US will take note of a second expert report on the follow up to the Toledo Statement.

Visa Waiver Program (and ESTA fee)

While US citizens enjoy visa free travel (for up to 90 days) to the EU, a visa requirement is still maintained for citizens of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Poland who wish to enter the US territory. US authorities consider that these Member States do not yet meet all criteria for visa exemption set in their legislation (e.g. that they are not issuing biometric passports or not meeting thresholds set for visa refusal and/or overstay rates).

Commission position: The Commission will pursue discussions with the US in order to achieve full visa reciprocity as soon as possible.

What is expected at this meeting? This ministerial meeting will be another occasion to raise the issue and make further progress towards a dialogue on the longer-term vision on how to enhance transatlantic mobility and international mobility in a secure environment.

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