ATHENS, June 25 (Xinhua) -- European Union member states and the U.S. were seeking ways to boost their collaboration on border protection and crime fighting during a ministerial meeting hosted in Athens on Wednesday.
In the last informal meeting on a ministerial level held in the Greek capital before Italy takes over the six-month rotating Presidency on July 1, European and U.S. officials discussed matters of mutual interest in the these fields, paving the ground to strengthen cooperation in the future.
"It is very important for us to see how will manage migration flows, protect our borders, how we will fight terrorism and organized crime. There were the main thematic axes of our discussions today," Greek Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias told a press briefing at the end of the meeting.
One of the key topics on the table was the protection of citizens in the transatlantic processing of their personal data. The U.S. side announced its intention to promote legislation that will provide EU citizens more protection.
"The balance between private space and security is a composite issue. However, there is will to find an umbrella agreement with the U.S. to reinforce transparency and to constitute a substantive answer to concerns expressed by citizens in both sides of the Atlantic," Greek Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Charalampos Athanasiou noted.
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom and Francoise Le Bail, Head of the Directorate General of Justice of the European Commission, noted that this particular issue has caused strains in transatlantic ties in recent years, but there are ongoing efforts to resolve problems.
"EU- US relations have been strained lately in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, but we have worked very hard to restore trust and there is strong commitment in both sides to work jointly and closely on our common challenges," Malmstrom stressed.
"It is an issue upon which we are trying to restore trust between the EU and U.S.," Le Bail added.
The U.S. officials on the other hand focused on security against terrorism in their interventions.
"One consistent theme running through all our discussions in a world of globalized crime and terrorism is that we can protect our citizens only if we work together," U.S. Secretary of Justice and Homeland Security, Eric Holder, said.
"We agreed that stopping foreign terrorism fighters is a shared concern. It represents a common threat that requires a clear and coordinated response across all member states," Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security said.