Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May):
The informal G6 group of ministers of the Interior from the 6 largest European Union countries, including representatives of the United States of America, held its most recent meeting in Krakow on 5 and 6 February 2014.
The summit was chaired by the Polish Interior Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz and I represented the United Kingdom. The other participating states were represented by Thomas De Maizière (Germany), Angelino Alfano (Italy) and Jorge Fernández Diaz (Spain). France were represented at official level. Eric Holder (the US Attorney General) and Jeh Johnson (US Secretary of Homeland Security) attended the second day.
The 1st formal session was on the development of EU justice and home affairs policy. There was general agreement on the need to focus on implementation of the existing agenda, rather than to develop new polices, concentrating on practical cooperation rather than new legislation. I said that it was important that member states drove the agenda. I stressed that tackling organised immigration crime remained an issue and highlighted the increasing problem of human trafficking, drawing attention to my intentions to bolster the UK approach through modern slavery legislation. I also raised the need for a renewed emphasis on effective measures against abuse of free movement and expressed concern at the emerging links between terrorism and organised crime.
The 2nd formal session concerned Asian organised crime. Ministers exchanged their experiences and I set out action in the UK through the recent organised crime strategy and National Crime Agency. I further emphasised UK work to improve our intelligence picture of organised crime and to build capacity in Asian countries in order to tackle criminal activity upstream.
The 3rd and 5th formal sessions related to the surveillance of EU citizens and protection of privacy. Ministers exchanged views on the need to find an effective balance between privacy and effective prevention of terrorism and crime. I called for a calm and measured approach and reiterated the importance of intelligence in the fight against terrorism. I welcomed the proposed additional protections proposed for non-US citizens in President Obama’s recent speech. The US set out its plans to tighten controls on access to bulk data, and provide enhanced Executive branch oversight. There would also be greater protection given to safeguarding the rights of non-US citizens. The US emphasised the benefits to the EU of US intelligence and cooperation.
The 4th formal session concerned the current challenges posed by terrorism. Ministers focused on the changing trends in terrorist activity and agreed on the need to intensify cooperation between Member States in combating terrorism. I highlighted the dangers posed by foreign fighters in the Syria conflict and stressed the need for international cooperation to tackle this issue. I further set out the need to focus on cooperation with Turkey as a priority, given that it represents the key entry point for many European nationals travelling to fight in Syria. Finally, I stressed the importance of effective sharing of intra-EU passenger name records data in tackling the challenges posed by terrorists.
At the formal dinner on 5 February, I reminded ministers of the need to seek improvements in the exchange of criminal records for child sex offenders. I also updated ministers on the draft Modern Slavery Bill. The Polish Minister raised the issue of the situation in Ukraine.
The next G6 meeting will take place in Spain in June.