Establishment of the Salzburg Forum (SF)
In 2000 the Salzburg Forum was founded as a Central European security partnership at the initiative of Austria. Looking back, its establishment was the logical continuation of the
already existing good and necessary cooperation in the region. The first Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conference took place on 15 and 16 August 2000 in Fuschl am See. The Ministers of
the Interior of the six founding countries Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia as well as the European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs
Antonio Vitorino took part in the conference.
It was Austria as the initiating country who held the chairmanship in the Salzburg Forum.
Phase I: Strengthening Regional Cooperation, Preparation for EU accession (2000-2004)
After the political establishment of the Salzburg Forum in 2000, the focus was put on the strategic and operational implementation of regional cooperation in the field of internal security.
The two main objectives were:
- Strengthening the cooperation in the area of internal security in Central Europe on the political and operational level. The forms of cooperation included the establishment of joint police cooperation centres and the deployment of police liaison officers.
- In 2000, when the Salzburg Forum was established, Austria was the only founding member of the Salzburg Forum that was also an EU member state. One of the objectives was therefore also the preparation of the other Salzburg Forum Partners for their accession to the EU, e.g. in the framework of Twinning Projects like “PHARE Twinning 2003 Migration and Visa Policy”.
Phase II: Cooperation within the EU (2004-2006)
In 2004, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary joined the EU. The fact that all SF member states were now also EU Member States changed the focus of the cooperation, making the cooperation within the EU one of the central functions of the SF, e.g. in the framework of the JHA Council or when one of the SF member states held the EU council presidency.
It was in Salzburg in 2003 that the SF member states decided that the SF chairmanship should rotate in alphabetical order on a 6-month basis.
Phase III: Common External Strategy of the SF MS, Group of Friends (2006-2010)
In 2006 Romania and Bulgaria became EU member states and joined the Salzburg Forum; Croatia was granted observer status in the Salzburg Forum. The Salzburg Forum Balkan countries were aspiring to become involved in the activities of the Salzburg Forum. To give consideration to the stated and to intensify operational and political cooperation with third countries, an external dimension was defined. It was at the Ministerial Conference in Brdo in 2006 that the Salzburg Forum member states adopted a common external strategy. In 2007, the Salzburg Forum Member States established the Group of Friends of the Salzburg Forum on the basis of the common external strategy: The Western Balkan Countries have been regularly invited to participate in the Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conferences ever since.
Phase IV: SF 2010 -2020
In 2010 the Salzburg Forum Member States adopted the Salzburg Forum Vision 2020 which sets out the roadmap for the next ten years.
The cooperation now focuses on the following three levels:
- Cooperation and Lobbying within the EU
e.g. during EU presidencies of a SF member state, cooperation concerning the future development of the JHA area
- Regional Cooperation
e.g. police cooperation centres, operational expert meetings and working groups (e.g. on witness protection, traffic safety)
- Cooperation with Third Countries
e.g. cooperation with countries of origin in the fight against illegal migration
Trio Presidency and 18-month work programme
The SF Vision 2020 also established a new coordination system – the trio presidency meaning that three successive member states
preside over the SF together and define their common goals in an 18-month work programme. The aim of the triple-shared presidency is to achieve
consistency and continuity in the work of the Salzburg Forum despite the rotating chairmanship. What is more, the trio presidency also reflects the mode of functioning of the Council of the
European Union introduced in 2007. As a result of trio presidencies, it is possible to identify and develop longer-term priorities and strategies.
In 2012 Croatia became a Salzburg Forum Member State.