Representatives of the European Union and the United States met in Gödöllő, a city near Budapest, to discuss various fields of cooperation in domestic and justice affairs as well as migration issues. According to the parties, the talks were productive.
The Hungarian Presidency, organised the EU-USA conference of justice and home affairs ministers; which was attended by United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, United States Attorney General Eric Holder, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding, while Poland, which is the next holder of the EU Presidency, was represented by Minister of the Interior Jerzy Miller and Minister of Justice Krzysztof Kwiatkowski.
“Official talks started today between the European Union and the United States; and the signing of the comprehensive agreement on data protection was a great success,” said Tibor Navracsics, Hungary’s Minister of Public Administration and Justice, at a press conference, following the meeting. According to him, although several more rounds of talks are necessary, the EU and the USA will eventually reach a framework agreement that will, “guarantee a high-level of data protection.”
Hungarian Minister for Internal Affairs Sándor Pintér, said the parties made progress on all agenda items, in a “pleasant” discussion. Mr Pintér stressed: talks have begun on reaching an agreement which will potentially enable the seizure of crime-related properties.
From Central America to North Africa
“It has been a good moment of the Hungarian Presidency,” said European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Reding praising the results of the meeting, and she also highlighted the importance of the cooperation against drug abuse. Ms Reding reminded that cocaine trading is on the rise; it is coming in from Central America and reaching Europe through Africa. “We must move toward a common goal” if we are to crack down on drug trafficking, Ms Reding said. She added that there was a common agreement at the meeting on the need to support “fighters of democracy”, in North Africa. European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, cited some of the issues on North Africa discussed by the parties behind closed doors: “We held discussions on migration, resettlement, and about how we contact the authorities about how we can identify refugees, and continue their resettlement.”
“We have touched on a wide array of topics, from cybercrime to data protection” said US Attorney General, Eric Holder, highlighting several aspects of potential cooperation with Europe. Mr Holder believes that talks in Gödöllő will serve as a good starting point for future agreements. “I am confident that we will reach an agreement on issues which currently divides us.”
Issues discussed at the meeting included the cooperation against terrorism and the related Toledo Declaration on air traffic security, adopted in 2010. United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, highlighted talks on the security of air passengers. “Our goal is to prevent passengers from being exposed to attacks, or if this is inevitable, to fend off such attacks,” she said. The participants also reviewed the US-EU PNR agreement with an aim to improve air safety.
Jerzy Miller, Interior Minister of Poland, which will take over the EU’s rotating presidency from Hungary, offered some insights into the Polish presidency’s planned agendas, at the press conference. Miller said drugs and, more specifically, the growing abuse of synthetic drugs will be a key item on the Polish presidency’s agenda. He added that the Mediterranean region’s problems will also take high priority during the Polish presidency.
Evaluating the meeting in Gödöllő, Poland’s Minister of Justice, Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, stressed that while more talks will be needed for the signing of a framework agreement on data protection, “Poland will be in a much easier position because Hungary has lightened the workload.”