Federal Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl at the EU-US Ministerial Meeting in Washington, D.C.
As chair of Council meetings, Federal Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl presided over the EU‑US Ministerial Meeting in Washington, D.C. on 9 November 2018. Acting Attorney General Matthew G Whitaker and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M Nielsen were among those representing the US at the meeting.
“The US is an important partner in matters of counterterrorism and police cooperation. I am pleased that we can use our stay to improve and expand this partnership”, said Federal Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl at the EU‑US Ministerial Meeting on 9 November 2018 in Washington, D.C. The meeting’s agenda comprised discussions on counterterrorism and cybercrime, as well as topics such as migration and the fight against drugs.
“The current challenges under discussion have three things in common: we do not stop at borders, we change rapidly and are increasingly intertwined. This is evidenced by developments and connections between migration, extremism, vote rigging and cybercrime”, said the Federal Minister of the Interior.
He noted that this cooperation on all levels is becoming more important in ensuring freedom and security on both sides of the Atlantic. “We should not only join forces to combat the threat that terrorists pose to our security, but also increasingly fight the threat that political Islam poses to our freedom”, he said.
65 hits out of 4 600 requests
Kickl underlined how pleased he was at the cooperation and regular exchange with the US. “Such cooperation is extremely important, especially where terrorism is suspected”, he said. “For instance, more than 4 600 requests submitted by the Criminal Intelligence Office Austria resulted in 65 hits in the FBI’s fingerprint database.” Kickl was particularly impressed by the National Target Center (NTC), which is part of US Customs and Border Protection. “There a lot of interesting impressions that we will take back to Austria with us”, he said. “The NTC is an excellent example of how different areas can liaise to combat terror”.
The Federal Minister of the Interior emphasised the great importance EU member states attach to the issue of counterterrorism and preventing terrorist content from being published online. “We are therefore very pleased that the US wishes to provide battlefield information in an appropriate form.” He underlined that this information could best be used to prosecute criminal offences. “Only a few member states have as yet used such information as evidence when prosecuting terrorists. This makes it even more important to continue this initiative.”
“Regarding the second topic, European heads of state or government are calling for the quick removal of terrorist content from the internet”, noted Kickl. “We aim to introduce legislation regulating the scope of the content concerned, the criteria for removing online content and the role of the EU agencies”, said Kickl. He stressed that in spite of certain differences of opinion, the US and Europe ultimately had a common interest in this regard.
Migration and border management
Participants also discussed migration and border management. Kickl said that an anti‑human smuggling package was presently being drawn up and was set to be adopted in December 2018 by the Council of the European Union. He made special reference to the Joint Operational Office in Vienna, which he views as a model for the fight against human smuggling on the Balkan route. The Federal Minister of the Interior highlighted the fact that he also wanted the European Union and the US to intensify their exchange on migration and said: “Migrants who enter the country illegally and are not entitled to international protection must be returned quicker”.
Current developments in drug use and drug trafficking were also discussed at the meeting. “The EU and China recently agreed on launching an annual EU‑China Dialogue on Drugs”, said Kickl. “This will also address matters of law enforcement and cross‑border crime.
The first dialogue could take place as early as at the beginning of 2019. “It would be both interesting and desirable to come to an agreement with the US before the start of the dialogue.”