Postojna, Slovenia - The nominated participants as experts in the Schengen area with the practical knowledge and experiences in managing national Schengen implementation process were welcomed at the Meeting of the Schengen Integration Task Force in Postojna, Slovenia, from 12-14 December 2016. The participants presented and discussed the state of play in their respected countries by adopting new IBM action plan with the focus on development of border police especially in the field of fight against organised crime and phenomena of illegal migration, which presents the biggest challenge in the forthcoming period. Most of the countries in the Western Balkan region will adopt new law on foreigners, asylum, and border security which are in total harmonisation with the EU standards.
The working session continued with the presentation of the current state of affairs in the area of border security in the Western Balkan region as well in the DCAF Border Security Programme’s beneficiary countries, based on a signed agreement on the organisation of joint flights for the return of foreigners. Special emphasis was put on the extreme migration wave affecting the region from October 2015 to May 2016 when thousands of illegal migrants from the Middle East were ‘canalised’ along the Balkan Route towards the European Union countries. The meeting accordingly continued with the topic of the evaluation on the application of Schengen acquis in the field of return as a newly added chapter which provisions lay down common standards and procedures for the return of non-EU nationals who are staying in the EU irregularly, and to be able to see how this provisions are implemented in practice the group visited the Center for Foreigners in Postojna, Slovenia.
After the visit, the second part of the meeting focused on “renewed” European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) whose mandate is extended to the operational cooperation with the third countries, especially at the territory of the neighbouring third counties (Western Balkan area). Additionally, participants were familiarised with the latest developments in the EU domain with relevant changes in current EU legislation and introduced to large-scale information systems relevant for border police work.