CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

 

Over recent years, security threats have intensified and diversified in Europe. They are increasingly cross-border in nature meaning that Member States must cooperate. The European budget can support member States as they work to keep Europeans safe and, together, build a Union that is resilient to future security challenges and is better equipped to respond to emergencies.

The objectives of the Internal Security Fund are based on the scope of its predecessor instruments, including the instrument for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime and crisis management (ISF-P) which was established by Regulation (EU) No 513/2014 and formed part of the Internal Security Fund in the period 2014-2020.

Ireland participates in the current ISF-P, which will be replaced by this Regulation. The ISF has enabled high-volume investments, especially in IT systems, from which Ireland has benefitted - for example Ireland’s connection to the Fixed Interpol Network Database (FIND) for linked member countries to access Interpol’s global databases. The ISF fund has also been utilised to help establish Ireland’s Passenger Information Unit as part of our compliance with the Passenger Name Record Directive (EU) 2016/681. For the current ISF An Garda Síochána act as both the Responsible Authority and the Audit Authority. My Department regularly reviews expenditure under the current ISF fund in Ireland through the ISF Monitoring Committee. The ISF Monitoring Committee meets quarterly and is comprised of officials from both my Department and An Garda Síochána.

The future ISF structure will contain a single general objective, which will be to contribute to ensuring a high level of security in the Union, in particular by tackling terrorism and radicalisation, serious and organised crime and cybercrime and by assisting and protecting victims of crime. This reflects the Unions security policy. The overall objective is supplemented by the following three important horizontal objectives:

  1. to increase the exchange of information among Member States’ law enforcement and other competent authorities and other relevant Union bodies as well as with third countries and international organisations;
  2. to intensify cross-border joint operations among Member States’ law enforcement and other competent authorities in relation to serious and organised crime with a cross-border dimension; and,
  3. to support efforts at strengthening the capabilities in relation to combatting and preventing crime including terrorism in particular through increased cooperation between public authorities, civil society and private partners across the Member States.

 

The proposal aims to address the need for greater flexibility in managing the future fund. A new thematic facility comprising €1 billion will be allocated periodically allowing the funds to, at the initiative of the Commission, support targeted actions by Member States and allow for a rapid response to immediate security challenges or emergencies. Funding under the thematic facility will be in line with the objective of the proposal, i.e. increased exchange of information, law enforcement cross border cooperation relating to serious organised crime, and strengthening capabilities to prevent crime including terrorism.

Allocations under the future Internal Security Fund will be based on a 60%-40% split. 50% (€1.25 billion) will be allocated to Member States initially, with a later mid-term allocation of 10% (€250 million) The remaining 40% (€1 billion) will be assigned to the new thematic facility.

Each Member State will receive a one-time fixed amount of €5 million to ensure a critical mass at the start of the programming period, plus an amount varying according to a distribution key weighted on the following criteria:

•              45% in inverse proportion to gross domestic product;

•              40% in proportion to the size of the population; and

•              15% in proportion to the size of the territory

Under the current ISF police fund approximately 9 million euro was allocated to Ireland to fund 9 programmes. The increase by a factor of 1.8 of the funding available to Member States’ national programmes is very welcome, and I expect that Ireland’s allocation will similarly increase. A precise figure can only be determined by the information available in 2020. This will also depend on the types of projects pursued by An Garda Síochána under the fund, participation in specific actions which are eligible for additional allocations, and on the mid-term review in 2024.

The proposal does not present any fundamental policy difficulties for Ireland, and the Attorney General’s Office has advised that it sees no legal impediment to opting in to this proposal. 

I am strongly of the view that Ireland should participate in the adoption and application of each of this proposed measures.  In doing so, Ireland will be in a position to benefit from financial assistance in pursuit of the various forms of police co-operation to which the proposed measure relates.  Our participation in the adoption of this measure will also enable Ireland to have a say in their final content, including particular budgetary allocations within and between each measure.  Opting in at this point does not necessarily imply that all elements of the proposal are completely acceptable to Ireland, but simply that we support the substance of the proposals and wish to participate in their negotiation and adoption.  Opting in now will lend weight to any policy positions that we may take during the negotiation process and allow us to maximise our influence on the final shape of each of these Regulations.