Press Release

Ministers discuss key topics related to migration and security

Ministers from EU Member States, Schengen associated countries, European partners and institutions met on Thursday the 25th of January for the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council, which focused on Home Affairs and Migration.

Fight against illegal drug trafficking and abuse of artificial intelligence

Home Affairs Minister, Annelies Verlinden, put the efforts on tackling organized crime and the malicious use of artificial intelligence (AI) on the agenda.

The fight against international organized drug crime is one of the main priorities of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Based on the EU roadmap, ten priority actions have been identified that will guide the efforts during the coming months. One of these priorities is to strengthen the resilience of the logistical platforms.

On the 24th of January, an important milestone has been reached on the launch of the European Ports Alliance, a public-private partnership. This partnership will bring together public and private stakeholders in our ports to identify concrete, operational solutions to prevent criminal networks from infiltrating and using European ports for drug trafficking. Also discussed was the need for further development and implementation of the administrative approach, which allows local authorities to take concrete measures (such as refusing licences or permits) to prevent organised crime networks from exploiting our legal business structures and undermining the legal economy. The prevention of recruitment of minors by criminal networks has also been discussed. To protect our minors and disrupt this alarming trend, it is crucial to invest in effective crime prevention policies and tools.

Another discussion focused on deepfakes, mis- and disinformation, the use of AI by criminal organisations and the impact on law enforcement authorities. AI can be used to leverage disinformation to manipulate public opinion, undermine trust in society, and foster polarization. 2024 holds significant importance as an electoral year, with a record number of voters globally participating in the polls. This underscores the timeliness and relevance of the ongoing debate. AI cannot be used as a catalyst for polarization and radicalism.

The discussions have shown that there is a need to invest in the right tools and advanced security measures as cyber-attacks will become increasingly more complicated. Our law enforcement authorities and the broader society need to get the opportunity to learn the right skills to understand the possibilities, risks and limits of AI. Only education can lead to the creation of resilience and, in the end, the needed resources to fight the malicious use of AI.

After the meeting, State Secretary for asylum and migration, Nicole de Moor, stressed that her key priority is to finalize the legal texts of the new European Asylum and Migration Pact and to start the process on its implementation and operationalization.

After all, it is of utmost importance that this historical reform is not only agreed upon on paper, but that it will also fundamentally change the way in which we deal with migration and asylum on the ground. The agreement will not change the situation on the ground from day 1 after its adoption. But there is full commitment to implement the decisions and take the concrete steps in that direction. The reforms will ultimately lead to a better management of migration.

Migration ministers from EU Member States also discussed the future of Ukrainian refugees, and possible complementary or alternative avenues for temporary protection measures. The war is far from over, but the temporary protection is currently foreseen to end in 2025. Good politicians have to be prepared for the future. Ministers recalled their commitment to Ukraine and its citizens and stressed the need for European harmonization in this field. They agreed with the Presidency that adopting 27 different national legislations on this topic would be counterproductive, result in secondary movements, and cause uncertainty. The Commission and the Member States decided to continue this discussion, including with the Ukrainian authorities, in order to jointly take a decision in the nearby future.