Central Europe's accession to the EU has also brought calls for new and more co-ordinated border controls with eastern neighbours. Poland has just been chosen to house the European Union's Control Agency for external borders, which will monitor how EU states patrol the bloc's external borders. Slovenia, which shares its boarder with EU hopeful Croatia, and thereby controls an important stretch of the EU's external border, was disappointed at not being chosen to house the new agency.
Slovenia will oversee an important stretch of the future EU external border and according to Interior Minister Dragutin Mate, Slovenia is successfully preparing for the implementation of Schengen standards on the southern border, in terms of staff and in meeting material requirements. I asked Melita Mocnik of the State Border and Foreigners Section in the Uniformed Police what the experiences along the borders are one year after Slovenia's EU accession:
"It has to be said that Slovenian police started its preparation towards full EU membership back in 1988 and we believe and, according to our experiences in the last year, we believe that we were quite successful. There were no major problems recorded after May 1st last year and also reaction and comments from other EU members, especially from police structures were quite positive".
Is there enough staff in the Slovenian police and if not how will this problem be solved?
"At the moment we still have 1273 so called Schengen working posts, two classes of candidates for police workers are right now undergoing an educational process. For others we will probably transfer some of the personnel from future Schengen internal borders to external borders."
What are the safety conditions at the southern border - it is known that illegal migrations are a problem at the southern border and organized crime has been on the increase.
"Yes, the so called Balkan route is one of the most endangered transit routes toward EU, the situation right now is quite stable but we have some increase of illegal border crossing in the first three months of this year for 23 %"
Does the Slovenian police receive any professional or other help from other EU members in securing the external border?
"Yes, especially there are activities in education and also we received from so called Schengen facility funds from EU some financial means for the purchase of technical equipment needed and on the other side we have some experiences also on the so called post best practice experiences shared, meaning that we had already two joint operations at the external border, where also police workers from other member states were involved in the work of our police forces."
Police officers in Slovenia are to start fully enforcing the Schengen standards by the end of 2007.
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