Dragutin Mate is minister of interior of the Republic of Slovenia. At the start of the Slovenian EU Presidency, Europolitics Social sought to find out more about his ambitions and intentions concerning some of the key dossiers currently on the table.

Your Presidency programme indicates that the proposed directive on sanctions against employers of illegal immigrants is a dossier where you will be striving to reach agreement. Given that there are some doubts in Council concerning the Commission's proposal, do you think it will be necessary to make major changes in order for a deal to be reached?

We will have a political discussion about that, and through this first political discussion we will see what is the main will of member states. When we have that, then maybe we can reach a common position. If the differences between member states are too strong then it will be necessary for us to prepare a new proposal, or change some things. If the climate will be good, then it is possible that we will finish this directive by the end of our Presidency.

Is it true that some member states in Council have problems with the Commission's proposal because they feel it cuts too far into national sovereignty? It is understood that this was raised by Germany during the last JHA Council.

I don't believe that some countries have such big problems with that. Basically, I don't believe that its really a political problem, I more believe that we have a legal basis problem. In general, I think that everybody agrees with the idea. We must find the real legal basis, and that might be a problem if we don't find one.

Is the legal basis problem that it should probably be a third pillar' measure, but the Commission is proposing a first pillar' measure?

That is the basic legal problem. It is the problem between a first and a third pillar issue. The legal service thinks that the first pillar is the right legal base, but some people think that maybe legal bases are in the third pillar too, and it's possible that we will find the solution in the third pillar.

The European airline industry has been very critical of the Commission's plans for an EU PNR [Passenger Name Record] scheme, presented as part of its anti-terrorist package in November. Is that something that you are going to have to spend a lot of time addressing during your Presidency, or do you think that the problems can be worked around by only making minor adjustments?

It's a hard topic. We will find out, in...

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