The EU Ministers of Home and Justice Affairs gathered today for the third and final formal Council Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs during the Danish Presidency. Minister of Justice and President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Mr. Morten Bødskov, had placed the struggle against cross-border crime and a strengthening of Schengen cooperation at the top of the agenda.
The Danish Presidency had prepared a number of specific initiatives aimed at combatting cybercrime both within the EU and globally. The Minister of Justice had also suggested a strengthening of the EU’s ability to handle issues related to itinerant criminal groups. Furthermore, the Presidency presented a package of initiatives aimed at strengthening Schengen cooperation.
At the meeting the Council decided to establish a new European Cybercrime Center and agreed to enter into a global alliance against online sexual abuse of children which aims at ensuring increased global efforts against the sexual abuse of children online and the spread of child pornographic material on the internet. The Council also took steps to strengthen the role of Europol in the combatting of itinerant criminal groups.
Within the area of Schengen cooperation the Council reached agreement on the so called Schengen Governance-package, which inter alia will make it possible to react to extraordinary situations, which threatens Schengen cooperation. The package will for example be used to support Member States that have been subject to significant pressures at their external borders. At the same time the control with Member State adherence to the Schengen rules was enhanced.
Minister of Justice and Chair of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Mr. Morten Bødskov, states:
”I am very satisfied with the results we have achieved at today’s meeting.
With a number of specific initiatives we now ensure that the national police forces and Europol are better equipped to investigate cases of cross border crime. This will for example apply in regard to cross border cybercrime where traditional police investigative measures fall short. It will also apply I regard to the efforts to combat itinerant criminal groups, which still pose a serious problem in many EU Member States.
At the same time we decided to initiate cooperation with countries outside the EU aimed at stopping the spread of child phonography on the internet. This is done in recognition of the fact that the EU’s efforts cannot stand alone and that we need to involve other countries in this work, if we are to be successful.
I am also very pleased that the European Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs today decided to strengthen the Schengen cooperation. Thus, today we agreed to strengthen the control with EU’s external borders in order to ensure no weak links appear in regard to cross border crime and illegal immigration.
At the same time we decided to introduce a mechanism which ensures swift and decisive action when extraordinary situations threaten Schengen cooperation.”
Denmark holds the Presidency of The Council of The European Union during the first six months of 2012. The Council is made up of 10 Council configurations dealing with different thematic areas. The Minister of Justice is President of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.
The general purpose of the JHA Council is to ensure that the EU remains an “area with freedom, security and justice” and the Council deals with cooperation on border control, immigration, asylum, civil protection, civil law and police and criminal law matters.
The JHA Council convenes three times during each Presidency and the meeting on 7-8 June 2012 is the last Council Meeting under the Danish Presidency. The Danish Presidency hosted an Informal JHA Ministerial Meeting on 26-27 January 2012 in Copenhagen.