EU interior ministers discussed important issues on migration policy


2023 01 26


Vice-Minister of the Interior Arnoldas Abramavičius attended the informal meeting of EU Ministers of the Interior in Sweden, which has assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the beginning of the year. The meeting will focus on migration policy and the fight against organised cybercrime.

The meeting focused the measures to make the return of migrants to their countries of origin more effective. Lithuania's voluntary return rate is one of the best in the EU. Since the start of the irregular migration crisis in 2021, Lithuania has voluntarily returned one in four foreigners to their countries of origin, i.e. more than 1,000 persons.

According to Vice-Minister Abramavičius, successful return practices require, firstly, an appropriate EU legal framework and, secondly, the use of all available instruments and levers to encourage third countries to accept the return of their nationals.  

"The EU needs to take a strong common position on this issue - the support and facilitation provided to third countries in various policy areas must be directly linked to their cooperation in readmission. Finally, to improve return rates, effective measures - incentives and restrictions - are also needed in relation to the migrants themselves," said Mr Abramavičius.

In Stockholm, the Vice-Minister also underlined the need to continue efforts at EU level to adapt the EU legal framework to today's migration challenges.

"We already needed proper EU legal framework to meet the challenges posed by the instrumentalisation of migration against the EU as a whole and individual Member States. We hope that the Swedish Presidency will continue its efforts to reach a consensus on the regulation, regarding instrumentalisation as well as in the negotiations with the European Parliament on the amendments to the Schengen Borders Code. Our priority is to maintain the elements agreed in the Council - the definition of instrumentalisation, the reference to fixed infrastructure, the development of common standards for the surveillance of the EU's external borders," said Vice-Minister Abramavičius.

The meeting also reviewed the situation of cybercrime, which is on the rise both in the EU and Lithuania. Criminals are using modern technologies to conceal their crimes, identities and locations.

The Vice-Minister stressed that cybercrime does not have borders and therefore new cross-border legal tools are needed in this area.

"For our institutions to be able to operate effectively in the digital space, we need not only to strengthen the analytical capacity of our law enforcement officers and deploy advanced technologies, but also to enable countries to exchange information efficiently and streamline procedures. Some progress has been made at EU level in this direction over the last few years. An agreement has recently been reached with the European Parliament on the Electronic Evidence Regulation. We need to keep working in this direction", said Vice-Minister Abramavičius. 

According to the Vice-Minister, it is important to find sound legal solutions to ensure that law enforcement authorities have access to the data they need to investigate crimes, while maintaining the protection of fundamental rights, personal data and privacy.