Home affairs ministers from the Western Balkans, EU and Moldova agree on automated data exchange
“Today, we have decided to raise the level of cooperation with the Western Balkans to that of Prüm. This represents a milestone in the fight against organised crime, human smuggling or extremism and terrorism in Central and Southeast Europe”,
said Austrian Home Affairs Minister Herbert Kickl at the ministerial conference “Security and Migration - Promoting Partnership and Resilience” on 13 September 2018 in Vienna. The conference brought together Minister Kickl, who holds the Austrian Council Presidency in the area of internal security, with his counterparts from the Western Balkans, the EU as well as from European and international institutions. With the signature of a memorandum of understanding, a Prüm-like agreement and a respective implementing agreement, six Western Balkan states and five EU member states are preparing to cooperate at an EU‑Prüm level.
As far back as the last Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2006, a “Partnership for Security” was established with the Western Balkan states and other third countries and the signature of the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE) aligned cooperation with Schengen standards. “By raising police cooperation to Prüm level, we are now taking the next decisive step for security and stability in our region”, said Kickl. The agreements enable the automated exchange of DNA data, fingerprint data and vehicle registration data between Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Austria.
With regards to internal security, the Austrian Presidency’s explicit goal is to work towards a citizen‑focused, crisis‑resistant, future‑oriented EU Security Union. “This requires enhanced cooperation with the relevant partners in the Balkans, but also in Africa, and to this end we are putting our Council presidency to as good a use as possible”, the Home Affairs Minister emphasised. The agenda of the first day of the Conference on Security and Migration therefore included in‑depth discussions with Western Balkan partners on asylum, migration, border management as well as European values, extremism and terrorism. The second day of the conference is dedicated to cooperation with North Africa.
In addition to home affairs ministers from the Western Balkans and Moldova as well as the EU member states and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries - Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland - the conference on 13 September 2018 was also attended by representatives of the European Parliament, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex, Europol and Interpol as well as representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).