Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. Today, however, we face a new dimension of international Islamist terrorism unknown until 11 September 2001. The dreadful attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, in Spain on 11 March 2004 and in the United Kingdom on 7 July 2005 were a brutal demonstration of what internationally active terrorist networks are capable of. The suitcase bombs found on German regional trains in July 2006 that fortunately did not go off and foiled attacks in London in August 2006 show that we must not flag in our pursuit of terrorists.
Therefore, fighting international terrorism will be one of the Federal Government’s central concerns during the German EU Presidency. This requires primarily a trusting and reliable cooperation with our partner states. In order to strengthen this cooperation we want to set up a European information network and work closer together in practice.
Access to comprehensive and up-to-date information is an indispensable prerequisite for the Member States’ police and security agencies. Germany will therefore continue to press for progress in granting police and security agencies of the Member States and Europol optimum access to the information systems of the European Union (Schengen information system SIS, visa information system VIS, Customs information system CIS, European fingerprint identification system EURODAC).
We want to strengthen the role of Europol (Click here for further information on Europol) and pay particular attention to a swift implementation of the second generation of the Schengen information system (SIS II).
Terrorists use the Internet to radicalize, recruit and train new supporters, and to covertly distribute information. We intend to develop a new form of analysing websites of Islamist organizations based on sharing responsibilities between all security authorities of the Member States involved in Internet surveillance. At Europol, an Internet portal is to be set up where the member states can share information. In addition, experts will be given the opportunity to exchange experience and best practices at regular meetings.
We need better protection for critical infrastructures in Europe.This is why we want to supplement current EU measures to protect aviation and maritime traffic by adding special measures for protecting critical infrastructures. We hope during our presidency to make significant progress on the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection put forward by the Commission and the proposed directive.
Terrorist use of explosives is nothing new, but we are facing a new dimension of such use since the attacks in Madrid in March 2005 and the incidents in London and Germany in the summer of 2006. The cooperation at EU level has already improved. During our presidency, we want to work even more closely together and make such cooperation more effective to achieve more rapid results. Recent measures to improve aviation security illustrate that the European Union is well able to respond jointly to imminent threats. A great concern of passengers is that the same security provisions on liquids in carry-on luggage apply throughout Europe.
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The threat posed by international terrorism and cross-border crime require stronger cooperation of the European security agencies. Germany will make every effort to contribute to implementing the area of freedom, security and justice in Europe as part of its EU Presidency in the first half of 2007.
We consider better information networking as a top priority for Europe. This includes both the setting up of the VIS (European Visa Information System) (Link) and the further development of the SIS (Schengen Information System) and the opening of Eurodac to access by the police and law enforcement authorities. But also the exchange of information between national databases should be improved.
During our Presidency we will make every effort to ensure that the Treaty of Prüm signed by Germany, France, Spain the Benelux states and Austria on 27 May 2005 on strengthening cross-border cooperation can be integrated into the EU’s legal framework. This treaty under international law named after the city of its signature is especially intended for the fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal migration.
With the signature of the Implementing Agreement on the Treaty of Prüm, all legal prerequisites are fulfilled for implementing the Treaty in the seven signatory states.
Germany considers the treaty as a cornerstone for further police co-operation and wishes that, where possible, all Member States benefit from it. The special added value of the treaty thus consists in a substantially improved and efficiently organized procedure for police information. The treaty allows the competent law enforcement agencies to access data by way of a hit/no-hit procedures to DNA and fingerprint data as well as fully automatic data access to motor vehicle registration data. Instead of setting up a work-intensive central data system, the existing national databases are interlinked. This procedure marks a great leap forward in the field of cross-border data exchange. In addition, the treaty provides for manifold instruments for the fight against terrorism (e.g. information sharing on potential offenders, deployment of armed sky marshals), of police cooperation (e.g. joint patrols) and for the fight against illegal migration (e.g. deployment of document advisers).
Another important aim of our presidency is the expansion of the Schengen Information System. As early as in 1985 the Schengen founding members Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux states introduced the basis for a common search system for persons and objects. Thanks to its help it is now sufficient if one Member State enters a search message, which will then be available to all Schengen States in a few minutes. This is an enormous security gain, for as with relevant entries it is no longer a single police force but all police forces and border control authorities in all Schengen states which are involved in the searching process.
Given the considerably enlarged European Union and the possibility of travelling without frontiers in an enlarged Schengen area, the justice and home affairs ministers consider it necessary that the technical possibilities of the Schengen Information System be improved considerably. For this reason the plan is to implement a second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). The improved system will give us the additional possibility to exchange photographs and fingerprints within seconds. Apart from further improvements we will hence have a comprehensive European search system for the police.
Given the technical complexity of SIS II, there have been delays in the introduction which had originally been intended for 2007. As part of its Presidency, Germany will take all the necessary steps to ensure that there will be no further delays under the new, adapted time schedule. The justice and home affairs ministers have also decided to extend the current SIS to the new EU Member States Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Malta as an interim solution. The idea especially is to ensure that the accession of the ten new Member States to the common Schengen area – i.e. the intended abolition of internal borders - can take place in the foreseeable future. This presupposes that the new Member States are in a position to fully apply the Schengen acquis and participate in the Schengen Information System (SIS). We will take forward relevant evaluations intensively during our presidency.
The best example of institutionalized European cooperation is the European police authority Europol with its headquarters in The Hague. It is intended to coordinate the work of the national police authorities in Europe against organized cross-border crime and promote the exchange of information between the national police authorities. Europol demonstrates that it has already had considerable success so far. Above all the threat posed to our community by international terrorism and organized crime require strengthening Europol even further.
This is why we will make every effort, during our Presidency, to ensure that Europol is strengthened further, above all in the operational field, so as to enable it to support the Member States’ police authorities in the fight against serious international crime even better. Ratifying and implementing the three Protocols Amending the Europol Convention is our top priority in this regard.
The Amending Protocols adapt Europol to the requirements of a modern fight against crime and will help increase Europol’s efficiency in a decisive manner:
The Second Amending Protocol, for instance, enables Europol to participate in joint investigation teams of the EU Member States and gives Europol the right to request them to initiate investigations on the ground. As part of the joint investigation teams, Europol itself can participate in operational measures on site. However, the use of coercive force by Europol continues to be ruled out. Amongst other things, the Third Amending Protocol gives Europol the possibility to allow experts from third countries to participate in analysis groups of the EU Member States at Europol. This is of the greatest importance, for instance in the cooperation with the USA in the important field of counter-terrorism.
In addition, we wish to use the intended integration of Europol into the EU’s legal framework to strengthen Europol further in operational terms. Hence Europol’s sphere of responsibility should be extended to cover e.g. the dissemination of child pornography on the Internet, disturbance of the peace through travelling violent offenders, hooligans etc. This is also necessary to give Europol the opportunity to advise and support the Member States in the context of European large-scale events.
Moreover, other national law enforcement agencies in Germany, apart from the already connected Federal Criminal Police Office, should be given access to the Europol Information System. The same applies to authorities of the other Member States. In the administrative field, Europol’s administration should be streamlined further so as to concentrate all available resources on the fight against crime.
In case of a disaster, those affected are entitled to expect immediate and unbureaucratic assistance. This holds true in particular within the EU and also in case of disasters affecting third countries. Given the devastating natural disasters that we have seen in recent years, but also against the backdrop of the increased threat emanating from international terrorism, there is a need to improve co-operation in the context of relief operations. It must be a matter of course to show solidarity with the victims of disasters within and outside the EU. Germany has shown such solidarity in the past by providing extensive practical and financial support.
In case of damage scenarios that exceed the resources of any given EU Member State, such as the forest fires in Portugal or the floods in Eastern Europe, it must be ensured that other Member States are able to provide relief rapidly and in a co-ordinated way. The same applies in case of disasters affecting third countries such as the devastating Tsunami in December 2004. The existing European regulations in this field (Community Mechanism to facilitate reinforced co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions and a financial instrument) have been subject to renegotiations for quite some time. The German EU Presidency strives to conclude this work.
Furthermore, we shall address two other issues that are of immediate relevance at the operational level. For one thing we should like to make an effort during the German EU Presidency to ensure that the analytic capabilities of the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) for Civil Protection at the EU Commission are enhanced so that requests for assistance and offers of assistance can be more effectively matched. Second, we want to promote the exchange of experience among Member States on the decontamination of injured persons in case of chemical accidents. Since the decontamination in the context of chemical accidents poses particular problems to the relief personnel, a good co-ordination and an exchange of experience between the Member States is all the more important with regard to such operations. Also, there is often a risk that such scenarios may affect an area that extends beyond national borders.
The European Union and its Member States face enormous pressure from illegal immigration, as people from third countries seek to come here, often at risk to their lives and by relying on human smugglers who take advantage of them. A common European policy is the only effective way to deal with this phenomenon. Therefore, in December 2005, the European Council adopted the Global Approach to Migration including priority actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean, based on Council conclusions concerning an EU strategy for Africa. Implementation is under way; the German EU Presidency will place strong emphasis on expanding and strengthening this approach in terms of substance and scope. Action to this effect will focus on the following key elements: Analysing the causes of flight; cooperating in development policy; fighting poverty; humanitarian aid; establishing effective border control and asylum systems in transit countries; urging countries of origin to comply with obligations under international law related to the readmission of own nationals as well as utilizing the possible advantages offered by legal migration, above all by temporary and circular migration. As migration issues have become an increasingly important aspect of the EU’s external relations, we wish to harmonize provisions concerning migration in agreements with third countries.
With the introduction of the visa information system (VIS) the Member States of the EU have an effective tool to prevent illegal migration to and illegal residence in their territories. In future, information gathered during the visa application process, including fingerprints of each applicant, will be stored in the database. It will then be possible to check at any time, in particular when a person enters the Schengen area, whether the visa was actually issued to the person presenting it. It will also be possible to check whether persons who conceal their identity from the police or foreigners authorities have ever applied for a visa. If so, they can be identified immediately and returned to their country of origin. The VIS should therefore become a key element in fighting illegal migration and “visa shopping” as well as international terrorism and organized crime.
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Another measure of utmost importance in the fight against illegal migration is the rigorous return of third country nationals. This allows us to make perfectly clear that those entering Europe illegally will not be granted the right to stay. This will also help prevent third country nationals attempting to get to Europe under life-threatening circumstances in the first place. In this context we want to review the existing negotiation mandates and evaluate the progress made in ongoing negotiations about readmission agreements between the European Commission and third countries. Another priority is improving the practical cooperation on returns of third-country nationals required to leave the country. Therefore, it is intended to increase the number of joint return flights carried out by Member States with the support of the European border agency FRONTEX (Click here for further information on FRONTEX).
In the area of refugee policy we want to improve the practical cooperation of the Member States’ asylum agencies to make sure that the relevant legal instruments governing asylum and refugee law are applied in the same way by all Member States. We will support the European Commission in evaluating the legal acts of the first phase of harmonization and initiate the discussion on the Commission's Green Paper on harmonizing asylum law to be presented in spring 2007. As part of regional protection programmes, we want to establish and expand asylum systems in transit states together with the Commission and in close cooperation with international organizations. Pilot projects to this effect will be fostered and advanced.
The planned strategy on legal immigration presented by the European Commission provides the basis for further discussion of the necessity, extent and contents of European regulations in the field of legal migration. Based on proposals for directives to be submitted by the Commission, we want to give momentum to negotiations on a European strategy for legal immigration. In the field of economic migration, the Member States must be guaranteed comprehensive flexibility so that differing labour market conditions in the various Member States can be taken into account.
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Schengen’s founders were aware of the fact that, in the absence of controls at the internal borders, also third-country nationals who had entered with a visa would be able to move freely between the Schengen countries. For this reason, they created a uniform visa for short stays in addition to the common system for police alerts. This uniform visa is issued by the embassy or consulate of a Member State and as a rule is valid for stays of up to three months in any Schengen country. The uniform Schengen visas have proved their worth. As the major users of this option, Germany and France alone issue a total of nearly 4 million Schengen visas each year. In order to promote further harmonization among the Schengen partners in the practice of issuing visas, the German Presidency will carry out specific measures to improve local Schengen cooperation in third countries.
A central aim of the common visa policy is fighting visa fraud, such as when third-country nationals overstay their visas. The Member States therefore decided to introduce a Visa Information System, or common visa database. This project was initiated at Germany’s suggestion, and we have since actively pursued it in the European context. In future, information gathered during the visa application process, including fingerprints of each applicant, will be stored in the database. It will then be possible to check at any time, in particular when a person enters the Schengen area, whether the visa was actually issued to the person presenting it. It will also be possible to check whether persons who conceal their identity from the police or foreigners authorities have ever applied for a visa. If so, they can be identified immediately and returned to their country of origin. The VIS will thus give us an effective tool to prevent illegal migration and visa fraud. Current plans are to begin introducing the system in 2008.
It is envisaged to adopt a Community regulation (“visa code”) intended to consolidate and to a certain extent reform the existing Community provisions governing the granting of Schengen visas. The European Commission proposed a regulation to this effect in July 2006. This is a far-reaching and substantive project which will not be completed under the German Presidency, although we hope to make as much progress on it as possible. In our view, this project is extremely important: Rapid changes in the common visa law have produced such complexity as to cause hindrances in practice; in addition, further reform is needed in certain areas.
Establishing the VIS and collecting the necessary biometric data from visa applicants constitutes a major challenge for the Member States. The consulates will be directly affected, as they will have to reorganize their procedures and build a new infrastructure for collecting and storing biometric data. It would be a good idea for the Member States to combine resources and cooperate more closely in this area by using shared infrastructure. We expressly welcome the Commission’s proposed regulation addressing the establishment of common visa issuing agencies.
The strategy of having staff from several Member States work together in one building to receive and (at least partly) process visa applications promises added value for all concerned: Applicants are offered a single point of contact before travelling to Member States; Member States can save money by sharing infrastructure; and the Union as a whole can benefit, as maintaining a common presence abroad visibly demonstrates progress on European integration to the rest of the world.
The European Visa Information System (VIS): http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/freetravel/visa/fsj_freetravel_visa_de.htm
Travel Information Germany: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/en/WillkommeninD/EinreiseUndAufenthalt/Visabestimmungen.html
The European Border Management Agency FRONTEX makes a major contribution to security in Europe. The Warsaw-based agency was set up in October 2005, primarily at Germany’s initiative. It is to support the border control organisations of the Member States, thus making a major contribution to a uniform and high protection level at the EU’s external borders. To this end, the Agency organizes and coordinates joint border police operations at hot spots of illegal migration. So far, the deployed officers have primarily an advisory capacity in the host country.
Furthermore, the Agency assists Member States in conducting joint return measures vis-à-vis third-country nationals required to leave the country. The Agency will also promote and harmonize, to the greatest possible extent, basic and further training measures for European border police officers. Finally, it works out comprehensive analyses with regard to illegal entries and the routes of illegal migration and makes these available to the border police authorities in the Member States.
We wish to enable FRONTEX to discharge these tasks in an even more intensive and efficient manner in the future. It is a major concern of the German Presidency to strengthen the Agency, in particular in view of the imminent removal of controls at the borders with the new Member States, but also in view of the life-threatening efforts on the part of those trying to illegally enter the EU via the Mediterranean.
For this reason, we are making every effort in Brussels to ensure that the latest Regulation Proposal by the European Commission to improve the Agency’s work is adopted as soon as possible. The Draft Regulation provides that the Agency may deploy joint border police teams to support a member state if, for instance, its borders should come under particular pressure. The teams may perform border police tasks in line with those of the host officers under the command of the border police authority of the host country. This means that the guest officers would no longer be restricted to purely advisory functions, but could be deployed effectively and perform border police tasks together with the host officers.
The regulation breaks a taboo at the European level. So far, only the “Federal Police” in Germany was able to entrust guest officers with executive powers during joint border controls or rail police measures. The new Regulation would make this possible at all European borders and border crossing points. In Germany, our experience in recent years with regard to granting guest officers executive powers has been very positive, especially on the occasion of the Football World Cup. It is not least for this reason that the Draft Regulation is based on a German proposal.
Responsibility for the protection of the EU’s external borders continues to lie with the border police forces. This means that the weakest link in the chain is bound to determine the security of these borders. For this reason, we wish to take European cooperation one step further also in quantitative terms. The new Regulation provides that, in the future, joint border police teams with executive powers are to be deployed at all borders which are hot spots of illegal migration. This would ensure that the common border control standards are applied in a uniform manner and that all efforts are made to prevent illegal migration at the EU’s borders in a sustained manner. The exchange of information and experience will enable border police officers to complement each other’s work, and bring in line and improve their skills and know-how.
We will therefore make every effort to ensure that agreement is reached with regard to the Regulation concerning the establishment of rapid border intervention during our Presidency and that all member states make sufficient staff available for joint Agency measures.
Domestic concerns play an increasing role in shaping the EU’s external relations. Terrorists and many organized criminal groups are active world-wide. The threats we face often have roots outside the European Union. As a result, our security in Europe often also depends on whether third countries work with us to fight terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and illegal migration in particular, and whether they address these problems at home. This is the external dimension of internal security.
The European Council has therefore adopted the European Security Strategy. This strategy aims at creating a ring of responsibly governed states stretching from the eastern borders of the European Union to the Mediterranean Sea. The “Strategy for the external dimension of JHA policy” adopted in December 2005 by the JHA and Foreign Affairs councils was incorporated into the European Security Strategy.
During our presidency, we will strive to ensure that the core statements of this strategy – priority of home affairs issues in external relations, better coordination of the EU’s three policy pillars (especially in the Council working groups in the second and third pillars) with regard to third countries and the conditionality of cooperation with third countries – are consistently followed.
In expanding the European area of security and stability, we therefore especially wish to strengthen cooperation on internal policy issues with the states participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy (Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian National Authority, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) in the framework of a partnership for modernization. At the European Council in June 2007, the German Presidency will present a report on ways to further develop the ENP and make recommendations on deepening JHA cooperation. JHA cooperation is particularly advanced with those countries having a border with EU Member States. The offer to further develop the ENP is extended to all neighbouring countries; the policy emphasis during the German Presidency will be on the eastern ENP countries (Eastern Europe and the southern Caucasus).
We hope to intensify the dialogue with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova in particular, especially with regard to fighting terrorism and organized crime.
Also in view of global migratory flows, partnership and close cooperation is essential between the European Union and third countries – above all countries of origin and transit. We intend to advance this effort on the basis of the Global Approach to Migration adopted by the European Council in December 2005. According to the Global Approach, migration issues are to be treated as a key element in the EU’s relations with neighbouring states (above all those in the Mediterranean region and in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe). The aim is to take specific action in cooperation with the third countries concerned to ensure that migration benefits all states. This action is to be comprehensive: to include on the one hand fighting illegal migration, while on the other utilizing the possible advantages offered by legal migration and addressing the causes of migration by means of targeted measures to fight poverty. In 2006, the EU began implementing a catalogue of measures focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean region. These include measures to reduce the flow of illegal migration and the number of deaths resulting from it; to guarantee the safe return of illegal immigrants; to strengthen long-term solutions for refugees; and to increase capacities for improved management of migration. Initiating a dialogue with Africa on migration issues was a key element in this effort, with conferences in Rabat and Tripoli on migration and development playing a significant role. In December 2006, the European Council resolved to deepen cooperation with Africa and the Mediterranean countries and to include the EU’s neighbours to the east and south-east in this cooperation. On this foundation, we will work hard to expand cooperation with third countries in the field of migration.
During the German Council Presidency, we will hold the chairmanship of EU Troika ministerial meetings with Russia, the USA and Ukraine. Germany will also actively support work on behalf of the planned meeting of ministers responsible for migration within the EUROMED framework (cooperation in the Mediterranean region).
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Through the European Public Administration Network (EUPAN) we wish to enhance the exchange of information and experience on the performance and development of national administrations. Our work will focus on analysing the impacts of the demographic change on the public service, sharing information on performance and mobility and developing guidelines to measure the level of satisfaction with public sector services. We would also like to use EUPAN as a forum for the European social dialogue between public service employers and employees at national level.
To establish a common market and fulfil the requirements of, for example, the service directive, European administrations must cooperate even more closely, and it is necessary to deliver pan-European eGovernment services. The German EU Presidency will therefore actively support the implementation of the European Commission’s eGovernment Action Plan; at the eGovernment conference on 1 March 2007, it will present and discuss strategies and solutions. Germany’s work will focus on establishing a European framework for secure electronic identification and promoting open and standardized document exchange formats.
Successfully integrating immigrants to the Member States from third countries is crucial to maintaining social cohesiveness in open societies, preserving freedom and ensuring peaceful coexistence in Europe. Immigration affects the various Member States differently. But we are living in a single European area of immigration, a continent that is growing together in economic and political terms.
Immigration policy oriented on integration offers more opportunities than risks as long as we do not regard otherness as a threat, but as an enrichment. Integration means offering the chance to participate equally in society. At European level, we can further develop existing integration policy approaches and promote intercultural dialogue. It is therefore a good idea to share ideas and profit from the experience of other Member States. It is also a good idea to develop at European level a shared understanding of integration that is based on mutual rights and obligations, both for immigrants and for the host societies.
We will work on behalf of a policy to assist immigrants while placing certain demands on them: Integration will be a lasting success only when all migrants are able to learn the language of their country of residence, complete their education, find work, and accept the basic rules of coexistence in our countries.
We want to continue and intensify dialogue and the sharing of experience and best practices among the Member States. To do so, we will follow up on the conclusions of the JHA Council of 1-2 December 2005 regarding the Commission’s Communication “A Common Agenda for Integration”. Our aim is to create new impetus for realizing the European and national measures mentioned there.
Intercultural dialogue is essential for the long-term understanding and promotion of peaceful relations between members of different cultures and religions.We can contribute at European level to national efforts.
An open dialogue with Islam in Europe is especially important. In view of the growing Muslim populations in many Member States, better mutual understanding and intensive commitment to successful integration and peaceful coexistence are needed.
We plan to initiate an exchange of strategies and best practices on a regular basis. This will be intended above all to address issues such as how to reconcile the public practice of religion, for example in schools or the public service, with the larger society and law. Member States which have already initiated a structured dialogue with representatives of their Muslim communities will be able to contribute their experience. Finally, we advocate ongoing dialogue with Islam at the European level.
The European Commission is planning to present an evaluation of the EC Data Protection Directive. On this basis, we wish to look in particular at the provisions governing reporting obligations for enterprises and the independence of supervisory authorities. The German Presidency seeks to simplify the application of the law.
As regards the statistics programme, we will advocate clear priorities to avoid overtaxing those surveyed and the statistical offices of the Member States. To this end, we want to achieve that the resulting costs for those surveyed and the Member States are made transparent, and are taken into account to a greater extent when deciding on European statistics.
We want to press ahead with the planned regulation on a Europe-wide census, so that the Member States can fulfil the EU requirements for the census planned for 2010/11 in time. We want to find a solution that meets the Community’s needs for basic statistical data (e.g. total population figure, regional distribution, age structure, and housing situation of the population) while allowing the Member States to choose the census method that is appropriate for them.
Under the German Presidency, cooperation among customs authorities in the third pillar is to be improved. Given the aim of the EU Treaty to create an area of freedom, security and justice, greater cooperation is needed at EU level to fight cross-border crime, which also falls under the responsibility of the customs authorities.
Coordinating this cooperation is the task of the Council’s Customs Cooperation Working Party (CCWP), which meets monthly in Brussels. The CCWP has drafted an 18-month action plan to define priorities for improved cooperation and ensure that these priorities are followed.
The action plan is divided into the various fields of customs cooperation: border management and security, intelligence, operational cooperation and information-sharing. Special working and project groups will carry out the activities. The aims of improved cooperation will be achieved by improving legal instruments in the field of legal and administrative assistance (Naples II Convention), producing analyses focusing on specific crime areas (e.g. drugs-related crime), and by optimizing EU IT systems to improve information-sharing. And the first joint meeting of the Council’s Police Cooperation and Customs Cooperation working parties will also help improve inter-agency and international cooperation over the long term.
Apart from the EU action plan on customs cooperation, the measures of the Council working party also take additional EU priorities into account. These include the EU Drugs Action Plan and the EU Action Plan on Combating Terrorism. Customs cooperation activities are closely tied to the Hague Programme adopted by the European Council in 2005, which is a multi-year programme to strengthen freedom, security and justice in the European Union.
During the German EU Presidency, operational activities are intended to be a milestone in improving inter-agency cooperation between Member States' police and customs authorities.