|The Czech Ministry of the Interior in cooperation with the European Commission organised a ministerial conference ”Safer Internet for Children – fighting together against illegal content and conduct on-line” in Prague on 20th April 2009. The Czech Republic was represented by Minister of Interior Ivan Langer and the Police President, Oldřich Martinů. The conference was dedicated to the process of improving cooperation between all stakeholders in the field of promoting safer Internet and mobile communications, especially for children. At the end of the conference the participants adopted the Prague Declaration.
”International protection of children is one of the key priorities of the Ministry of Interior and we have paid increased attention to all related activities. One of our key ideas is the Prague Declaration, which we drafted and presented to the conference participants. The Prague Declaration, which we adopted today, wishes to enhance cooperation between all stakeholders across Europe and establish conditions for safer use of the Internet by children”, said the Czech Minister of the Interior Ivan Langer, and presented the flower symbolising the Prague Declaration. ”I drew inspiration from nature in spring and I will use this flower to explain the idea behind our Declaration. In the centre we have the child and the petals symbolise activities to secure the protection of the child. The first petal represents the Member States which bear the responsibility for both political and legislative measures. In this respect, I very much welcome the representatives of Switzerland and Norway who decided to join the Prague Declaration. Our flower, in the spirit of the Czech Presidency motto “a Europe without Barriers” thus helped remove barriers not only between the Member States, abut also between the “27” and the two countries which are not members of the Union. The second petal represents European cooperation. The key stakeholders here are the European Commission and, primarily, EUROPOL and INTERPOL. The improved cooperation and coordination of individual Member States will allow EUROPOL and INTERPOL to better detect and investigate for example criminal networks organising child pornography. The rest of the petals are equally important since they represent various institutions and organisations, such as industry associations, Internet Service Providers (ISP), mobile telephony providers, social networks, NGOs or schools, which should ideally be in the front line of Internet awareness raising among children“.
One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the Safer Internet programme for 2009 – 2013, the budget of which is €55 million. This significant sum of money is, as explained by Richard Swetenham, a representative of the European Commission, dedicated to both awareness raising and activities to suppress illegal content and harmful conduct on line, including improved policing.
The conference participants had an opportunity to attend several interesting workshops led or attended by remarkable speakers.
|The Commission introduced two new tools for the integration of third country nationals living in the European Union: The first one is the European Integration Forum, organised in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee, where EU institutions, stakeholders and civil society organisations will exchange views on integration issues. The second tool is the European Web Site on Integration, which will soon become an easily accessible source of high-quality information from across Europe and will unite integration experts.
Vice President Barrot, who is in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security said: "I believe that it is essential for the success of integration policies to exchange knowledge. This is why I am particularly pleased that today we bring together all stakeholders and organisations active in the area of integration on the occasion of the inaugural meeting of the European Integration Forum and the launch of the European Web Site on Integration. The Forum is a 'physical' platform for a dialogue on the current challenges and future priorities for integration policies. The Web Site is a "virtual platform", an online toolkit for all those dealing with migrants. It is a truly interactive instrument where good practices are shared, funding opportunities can be discovered and project partners found. The site will help build a new online community of all those working on integration."
European Integration Forum: A Platform for Dialogue on Integration
The European Integration Forum will provide an opportunity for the representatives of civil society organisations to express their views on integration issues, particularly on those related to the "EU agenda on integration." At the same time, the Forum will allow European institutions to play a pro-active role in this field. As a new platform for dialogue on integration, organised in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee, the Forum is an important occasion to discuss the current challenges and future priorities with the representatives of European institutions.
At today's initial meeting, the role and methods of the Forum in contributing to the development of the future EU agenda on integration, as well as relevant current issues, such as the consequences of the current economic crisis on the integration of immigrants, will be addressed. The Forum will be attended by civil society organisations dealing with integration on the European level, including social partners, as well as by European institutions. The representatives of national platforms on integration will also be present, along with the representatives of the network of the National Contact Points on Integration.
On the occasion of the Forum, the European Web Site on Integration (www.integration.eu) was officially launched. It aims to strengthen integration policies and practices by sharing successful strategies and supporting cooperation among stakeholders and civil society organisations across the EU. This freely accessible website enables visitors to share good practices, find out about funding opportunities, look for project partners, get up-to-date information on the EU, national and local levels and to be in contact with the members of the EU integration community. It will also strengthen contacts between integration experts and politicians. It will soon become an easily accessible source of high-quality information from across Europe and it will extend the community of those who deal with integration.
|Which event of the Ministry of the Interior within the Czech EU Presidency do you consider the most interesting and why?
In my opinion, the most interesting event is the preparation of the ministerial conference called Building Migration Partnerships. It is the largest and at the same time the most demanding event that we are arranging logistically within the International Relations Department. That is true even if we compare it to the informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council which took place in Prague in January 2009. The conference on migration will be followed immediately on the same day by the EU – USA Troika meeting focused on the area of justice and home affairs.
During the three days of these meetings in Prague we will be taking care of about 700 people – both the delegates themselves and the organization teams. We will welcome about twenty ministers, vice prime ministers or top representatives of the EU or of other international organizations and we will be providing full conference service to more than sixty delegations. I hope the event will go smoothly and we will show that our work is professional. From my point of view it will be a highlight of the organization and logistics of all the events organized by the Ministry of the Interior during the Czech EU Presidency.
To me, these meetings are remarkable not only because of the level of the delegates who will be coming to Prague, but also because of the logistical and organizational variety connected with them and because of the high representativeness that we want to provide. The meetings will be taking place at the Prague Congress Centre, in Žofín and in the Lichtenstein Palace. Cultural programme is provided in the form of formal dinners in Rudolfinum and in the Lichtenstein Palace.
As I have already mentioned, these events are really demanding, but if they are a success – and I am convinced they will be – I will be very proud of the work of the International Relations Department and of all my colleagues.
What important events lie ahead in the remaining months of the Czech Presidency?
At the end of April 2009 after the already mentioned migration conference and the EU – USA Troika meeting focused on the area of justice and home affairs the pressure of organizational work will slightly decrease because there are not probably going to be any demanding and large events like these. However, with regard to the fact that our department is directly involved in the organization of international contacts of the Minister of the Interior and his Deputies, we are going to participate in more than ten other events before the end of the Czech Presidency. I can mention the meeting of the Permanent Partnership Council EU – Russia with the participation of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, the EU – Ukraine ministerial Troika or the meeting of the Salzburg Forum countries’ Ministers of the Interior. All these events take place outside the Czech Republic and from the point of view of the Ministry of the Interior they are very important meetings covering the area of security in both the EU and its neighbouring countries.
What is a typical day like at the International Relations Department within our EU Presidency?
It is very different from the time before the Presidency. With regard to the number of events we prepare, there are now two work shifts at the Department. The first one is “in action“ until midnight or even longer and the
|second one starts work at about five or six in the morning. Such a schedule is necessary because so much work cannot be managed within regular working hours.
I am really happy that the team of my colleagues who work here have adapted to the new situation really well and they all do an incredible amount of work. That is true not only for those who are directly involved in the preparation of events, but also for those who prepare the agenda of the International Relations Department, which cannot, of course, be stopped even during our Presidency.
During the preparation of international events within our Presidency we have to organize tens of meetings to each of them – discussions with our colleagues from the Ministry of the Interior and from the Czech Police (security service, Press and Public Relations Department, Presidency Coordination Department and specialized departments) as well as with the Government Office and with private suppliers who we need for the organization of events (meeting space and accommodation providers, catering suppliers, interpreters, transport companies and contact persons). The preparation in the background before the event itself is crucial for the smooth course of each event. We have to manage about 90 % of such tasks before the delegates from the individual countries arrive in the Czech Republic. During an event we can only respond to a limited number of problems.
When we are preparing an event, a working day consists of several parallel activities that a particular person is responsible for – at the same time participants from abroad are being accredited, the list of the heads of delegations is being made, constant changes are being solved concerning accommodation and transport in the course of the whole event, meeting spaces and all necessary technology is being prepared, conference or presentation materials are being transported to the places where the event takes place, cultural programme and catering are being prepared, a team of contact persons is being put together and their training and coordination are being ensured, issues related to the schedule of interpreting the events are being solved, etc. The whole team are, of course, present even at the events themselves, where they coordinate their whole course.
Of course, we have to inform the Deputy Minister for European Matters and also the Minister of the Interior about all our important steps and changes. Besides a wide range of information we also provide detailed minute schedules which help them to be acquainted with the progress of the event.
The International Relations Department is responsible not only for the actual organization of the Presidency events, but we also help other departments of the Ministry or of the Police of the Czech Republic during events organized by themselves. We can help them by selecting suitable conference spaces and accommodation and if needed we ensure interpreting and translation services. We provide them with our well-tried contact networks so that they can use them to make their work easier.
Without any overstatement I can say that the performance of all my colleagues at the International Relations Department is like an orchestra in harmony. Everybody has their own instrument and they use it professionally not just for the needs of the Department, but also for the needs of all partners within the Ministry as well as outside of it.