Federal Councillor Beat Jans attends the meeting of justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels

Press releases, 05.03.2024

Federal Councillor Beat Jans attended the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA Council) on 4 and 5 March in Brussels. The JHA Council is made up of the justice and home affairs ministers of all the EU member states and the four non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen agreement, of which Switzerland is one. The talks focused on combating organised crime, drug trafficking, people smuggling and irregular migration. Mr Jans, who is head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), also took part on the fringes of the meeting in a round table discussion on cross-border data exchange and data protection.

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders invited to the meeting those 15 third countries whose data protection laws the EU recognises as being equivalent. The European Commission renewed its recognition of Swiss data protection legislation in January 2024, thus allowing the free flow of cross-border data. The round table discussion served as an initial exchange on the possibilities of closer cooperation in cross-border data exchange and data protection, and on the potential for harnessing network effects through the mutual recognition of equivalent legislation among third countries. The potential for cross-border cooperation between supervisory data protection authorities and in the field of artificial intelligence were also discussed.

Fighting organised crime and drug trafficking

The fight against organised crime and drug trafficking was once again one of the most important topics at the meeting. In January 2024, the European Commission adopted an evaluation report listing the best practices of the EU states in the fight against drug trafficking. These include identifying the flow of goods and destabilising criminal networks. The ministers discussed the recommendations of the evaluation report. The FDJP will analyse these recommendations in order to clarify whether and how these best practices can be implemented in Switzerland and whether an action plan is required for implementing the most important recommendations.

Irregular migration and the efficient management of external borders were also discussed at the ministerial meeting. Among other things, a recent evaluation of the mandate of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, confirmed that the legal basis for dealing with current and future challenges at the Schengen external borders is adequate.

Mr Jans welcomed the emphasis at Frontex on protecting fundamental rights. Since 2021, Frontex has developed effective internal rules, procedures and training to improve the respect, protection and promotion of fundamental rights in its activities. Switzerland will continue to monitor this closely, said Mr Jans. He expressed reservations about the planned budget cuts in the area of return, which must continue to be a priority. He also emphasised the importance of using resources efficiently.

Uniform rules against people smugglers

The head of the FDJP welcomed the European Commission's plans to harmonise regulations to combat migrant smuggling. Uniform offences and penalties should help the authorities to take effective action against criminal networks. In addition, the jurisdiction of member states is to be extended to cases that do not occur on their territory but, for example, in international waters. It is still unclear to what extent exemptions from criminal liability are to be made for humanitarian reasons.

Mr Jans also took the opportunity to hold bilateral talks with his counterparts. For example, he exchanged views with Hungary's home affairs minister, Sándor Pintér, Austria's home affairs minister, Gerhard Karner, France's justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, and Frontex's executive director, Hans Leijtens.

Address for enquiries:

FDJP Communication Service, T +41 58 462 18 18, info@gs-ejpd.admin.ch


Federal Department of Justice and Police