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Area of freedom, security and justice

Area of freedom, security and justice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Area of freedom, security and justice

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

Area of freedom, security and justice

The Treaty of Lisbon intends to reinforce the establishment of a European common area within which persons move freely and benefit from effective legal protection. The creation of such an area has implications for areas in which European citizens have high expectations, such as immigration and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. These issues have a significant cross-border dimension and therefore require effective cooperation at European level.

The Treaty of Lisbon divides the themes related to the area of freedom, security and justice into four fields:

  • policies related to border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Matters relating to criminal judicial cooperation and police cooperation were previously covered by the 3rd pillar of the European Union (EU), governed by intergovernmental cooperation. Under the framework of the 3rd pillar, European institutions did not have any competences and could therefore not adopt regulations or directives. The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this distinction and henceforth enables the EU to intervene in all matters related to the area of freedom, security and justice.

BORDER CONTROL, ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION

The Treaty of Lisbon attributes new competences to the European institutions, which can henceforth adopt measures with a view to:

  • establishing common management of the EU’s external borders; in particular through the strengthening of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, known as Frontex;
  • creating a common European asylum system; such a system will be based on a uniform European status and common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of asylum;
  • establishing rules, conditions and rights in relation to legal immigration.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CIVIL MATTERS

The Treaty of Lisbon authorises the European institutions to adopt new measures concerning:

  • the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition: each judicial system must recognise decisions adopted by the judicial systems of the other Member States as valid and applicable;
  • effective access to justice;
  • the development of alternative methods of dispute settlement;
  • the training of the judiciary and judicial staff.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

With the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU, the whole of criminal judicial cooperation becomes a field in which the European institutions may legislate.

Specifically, the European institutions may henceforth establish minimum rules concerning the definition and sanctioning of the most serious criminal offences. In addition, the EU may also intervene in the definition of common rules concerning the functioning of criminal procedure, for example with regard to the admissibility of evidence or the rights of individuals.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon intends to strengthen the role of Eurojust in the EU. Eurojust’s mission is to help coordinate investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities of Member States. Currently, Eurojust only has the power to make proposals: it can request national authorities to initiate investigations or prosecutions. Henceforth, the Treaty of Lisbon offers the European institutions the option of extending the missions and powers of Eurojust with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon considers the possible creation of an actual European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust. Such an office would have significant powers as it could investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of crimes. In addition, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office would itself be capable of exercising the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of Member States.

Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon does not yet establish the European public prosecutor’s office, but merely authorises the Council, acting unanimously, to adopt a regulation in this regard. If the Council does not reach unanimity, then nine Member States, at the least, will have the option of establishing a European public prosecutor’s office between them under the framework of enhanced cooperation.

POLICE COOPERATION

As with criminal judicial cooperation, police cooperation benefits from the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU. Henceforth, the European institutions will be capable of adopting regulations and directives in this field.

The ordinary legislative procedure is thereby extended to all non-operational aspects of police cooperation. In contrast, operational cooperation will be determined through a special legislative procedure requiring Council unanimity. However, the Treaty of Lisbon also provides for the option of establishing enhanced cooperation if unanimity is not reached by the Council.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon provides for the gradual strengthening of the European Police Office (Europol). As with Eurojust, the Treaty of Lisbon henceforth authorises the Council and the Parliament to develop the missions and powers of Europol under the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure. Currently, the role of Europol is limited to facilitating cooperation between the authorities of Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon specifies that new tasks could also include the coordination, organisation and implementation of operational actions.

EXEMPTIONS

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark benefit from special arrangements, which include all the measures adopted under the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice. These three countries have the option of deciding not to participate in the legislative procedures in this field. They will, therefore, not be bound by the adopted measures.

In addition, two types of derogating clause are applied to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark:

  • an “opt-in” clause which enables each of them to participate, on a case by case basis, in the adoption procedure for a measure or the application of a measure already adopted. They will then be bound by this measure in the same way as other Member States;
  • an “opt-out” clause enabling them not to apply a measure at any time.

Community statistics on asylum and migration

Community statistics on asylum and migration

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community statistics on asylum and migration

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Community statistics on asylum and migration

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 311/76 on the compilation of statistics on foreign workers.

Summary

This regulation establishes common rules for the collection of Community statistics on migration by European Union (EU) countries. It concerns statistics relating to immigration * to and emigration * from an EU country, citizenship and country of birth of persons resident in the territories of EU countries, and administrative and judicial procedures relating to migration.

Statistics on migration, international protection, illegal immigration and returns

EU countries are required to provide Eurostat with statistics on the numbers of:

  • immigrants moving to their territories;
  • emigrants moving from their territories;
  • persons usually resident in their territories;
  • residence permits issued, including long-term residence permits;
  • natural persons having acquired national citizenship.

EU countries are also required to give the numbers of:

  • persons applying for international protection;
  • persons covered by applications under consideration by the national authorities;
  • applications rejected;
  • applications granting refugee, subsidiary protection and temporary protection statuses;
  • unaccompanied minors;
  • applications and transfers covered by the Dublin II Regulation;
  • persons selected for resettlement *.

In addition, EU countries must provide Eurostat with statistics on the numbers of non-EU country nationals who have been refused entry at their external borders and who have been found illegally present in their territories.

Furthermore, EU countries must provide statistics on the number of administrative or judicial decisions imposing an obligation to leave their territories, as well as on the number of non-EU country nationals who are returned to their countries of origin, countries of transit or other non-EU countries.

Provisions common to the different categories

The statistics are based on:

  • records of administrative and judicial actions;
  • registers relating to administrative actions and population registers;
  • censuses;
  • sample surveys.

As a rule, the statistics are disaggregated by age, sex and nationality. The Commission may adopt other disaggregations, such as the year in which the residence permit was granted for the first time (statistics on residence permits) or reason for refusal or arrest (statistics on illegal entry and immigration).

The Commission is assisted by the Statistical Programming Committee. It will submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of the regulation by 20 August 2012 at the latest (and then every three years).

Background

This regulation is in response to the conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003, which asked for more effective mechanisms for collecting and analysing information on migration and asylum in the EU. The Commission had previously published an action plan laying down the objectives for developing statistics in this field.

Key terms used in the act
  • Immigration: the action by which a person establishes his or her residence in the territory of another EU or non-EU country for a period of at least twelve months;
  • Emigration: the action by which a person, having previously been resident in the territory of an EU country, changes his or her country of residence for a period of at least twelve months;
  • Resettlement: the transfer of non-EU country nationals to an EU country where they are permitted to reside for the purposes of international protection.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 862/2007

20.8.2007

OJ L 199 of 31.7.2007

Related Acts

Commission Regulation (EU) No 351/2010 of 23 April 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community statistics on migration and international protection as regards the definitions of the categories of the groups of country of birth, groups of country of previous usual residence, groups of country of next usual residence and groups of citizenship [Official Journal L 104 of 24.4.2010].
To ensure the comparability of statistics from EU countries and to allow the drawing up of reliable EU-wide overviews from these statistics, it is essential that all EU countries define certain categories of groups in the same manner. Consequently, this regulation establishes the categories of groups of:

  • country of birth;
  • country of previous usual residence;
  • next usual residence;
  • citizenship.

EU countries must transmit data to the Commission according to these groups, as listed in the annex to this regulation. The groups of countries and citizenship are divided into basic groups and additional groups of other non-EU countries and citizenship disaggregated by levels of development. The Commission provides lists of countries and citizenships for each basic and additional group.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 216/2010 of 15 March 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community statistics on migration and international protection, as regards the definitions of categories of the reasons for the residence permits [Official Journal L 66 of 16.3.2010].
To harmonise the collection of statistics by EU countries, this regulation defines in its annex the categories of reasons for issuing residence permits to non-EU country nationals. The list includes categories of reasons relating to:

  • family formation and reunification;
  • education and study;
  • remunerated activities.

Participation of third countries in Dublin and Eurodac

Participation of third countries in Dublin and Eurodac

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Participation of third countries in Dublin and Eurodac

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Participation of third countries in Dublin and Eurodac

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2006/188/EC of 21 February 2006 on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark extending to Denmark the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national and Council Regulation (EC) No 2725/2000 concerning the establishment of Eurodac for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention.

Summary

The Agreement referred to in the Decision applies, between the Community and Denmark:

  • the Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in any Member State by a third-country national (the “Dublin II Regulation”);
  • the Regulation concerning the establishment of the Eurodac system for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin II Regulation;
  • the implementing measures for these two Regulations.

Denmark does not take part in the adoption of amendments to these texts, and they do not apply to it. It may, however, inform the Commission within 30 days of adoption of the amendments whether it has decided to apply them or not.

Equally, Denmark does not take part in the adoption of implementing measures. When such measures are adopted, Denmark will be informed, and will inform the Commission whether it has decided to implement them.

Notification of amendments or implementing measures creates mutual obligations under international law between Denmark and the Community. If Denmark notifies a decision not to apply the amendments or implementing measures, the Agreement is, in principle, deemed to be terminated.

The international agreements concluded by the Community on the basis of the rules established by the Dublin II and Eurodac Regulations are not binding on Denmark. Denmark undertakes not to enter into international agreements that may affect or alter the scope of those Regulations.

Denmark may, like the Council, the Commission and any Member State, request the Court of Justice to give a ruling on a question of interpretation of the Agreement.

Where such a question is raised before a Danish court, that court must ask the Court of Justice to give a ruling on the question whenever a court of another Member State of the European Union would be required to do so under the same circumstances. It must take account of the Court’s ruling once this has been given.

The Commission may bring before the Court of Justice cases against Denmark concerning non-compliance with any obligation under the Agreement. Equally, Denmark may submit a complaint to the Commission against a Member State for non-compliance with its obligations.

Denmark will contribute to the administrative and operational costs of the Eurodac Central Unit.

The Agreement will be terminated if Denmark informs the other Member States that it no longer wishes to avail itself of the Protocol on the position of Denmark. It may also be terminated by one of the contracting parties.

Background

This Decision concerns the conclusion of an agreement between Denmark and the European Community extending to Denmark the provisions of the Dublin II and Eurodac Regulations.

Denmark originally took part in the Dublin Convention of 15 June 1990. The Dublin II Regulation, which replaces that Convention, rendered obsolete Denmark’s participation in the mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application. Therefore, until the entry into force of the Agreement, the Dublin Convention remained valid between Denmark and the other Member States. The Protocol on the position of Denmark annexed to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community excludes in principle Denmark’s participation in matters relating to asylum and immigration (and, consequently, in the Dublin II and Eurodac Regulations).

To rectify this situation, the Commission negotiated an agreement with Denmark, signed on behalf of the European Community on 13 March 2005, which entered into force on 1 April 2006.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2006/188/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2004/0205] 28.2.2006 L 66 of 8.3.2006

Related Acts

Council Decision 2008/147/EC of 28 January 2008 on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a Member State or in Switzerland [Official Journal L 53 of 27.2.2008].
Switzerland is implementing the “Dublin II” and Eurodac Regulations. The Commission is conducting an informal consultation of Swiss experts with a view to drafting its proposals. The Agreement sets up a Mixed Committee, with the task of analysing the implementation of the Regulations. The representatives will monitor closely the rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Communities and by the Swiss courts. If rulings differ substantially, a special procedure will be triggered.

Council Decision 2006/167/EC of 21 February 2006 on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a Member State or in Iceland or Norway [Official Journal L 57 of 28.2.2006].
The Dublin II Regulation and the Eurodac Regulation and their implementing measures apply under international law to relations between Denmark, on the one hand, and Iceland and Norway, on the other. Amendments to and implementing measures for the Dublin II and Eurodac Regulations notified to the Commission by Denmark also apply to their relations. In the case of a complaint by Norway or Iceland concerning application or interpretation of the Protocol by Denmark, Norway or Iceland may ask that the matter be entered on the agenda of the Joint Committee. If the dispute cannot be settled by the Joint Committee within a maximum of three months, the Protocol will cease to apply.

On 26 October 2004 the European Community signed the Dublin/Eurodac Agreement with Switzerland. This Agreement anticipated Liechtenstein’s possible association with the Dublin/Eurodac acquis. By letters dated 12 October 2001 and 10 June 2005, Liechtenstein confirmed its wish to be associated to the Schengen and Dublin/Eurodac acquis.

The final content of the Protocol can be summarised as follows:

  • Liechtenstein accedes to the Dublin/Eurodac agreement with Switzerland and will have to accept the entire Dublin/Eurodac acquis and the development thereof; if Liechtenstein does not accept future developments of the Dublin/Eurodac acquis, the Protocol will cease to operate.
  • Liechtenstein will become a member of the Mixed Committee and will have the right to express its opinion within the Mixed Committee and to preside it. Application of the Dublin/Eurodac Protocol is linked to that of the Schengen Protocol and the Protocol between the European Community, Switzerland and Liechtenstein on the participation of Denmark and of the Agreement between Liechtenstein and Norway and Iceland on Dublin/Eurodac.

Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of a Protocol between the European Community, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a Member State, in Switzerland or Liechtenstein [COM(2006) 753 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

In accordance with the provisions regarding the position of Denmark annexed to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, Denmark is not participating in the Dublin or Eurodac Regulation. The Dublin/Eurodac agreement with Switzerland provides for the possibility that Denmark may ask to participate. By letter dated 8 November 2004, the Kingdom of Denmark asked to participate in the Dublin/Eurodac Agreement with Switzerland. Following the authorisation given by the Council to the Commission on 27 February 2006, negotiations were held with Liechtenstein and Switzerland. On 21 June 2006 negotiations were finalised and the draft protocol on the participation of Denmark in the Dublin/Eurodac Agreement with Switzerland and Liechtenstein was initialled.

The attached proposals are the legal bases for the decisions on the signing and conclusion of the Protocol. The final content of the Protocol can be summarised as follows:

  • It makes the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations and their implementing rules applicable to relations between Denmark, on the one hand, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein, on the other. It also renders future amendments or new implementing measures applicable to these relations.
  • It gives Switzerland and Liechtenstein the right to present written pleadings or observations to the Court of Justice when a court in Denmark applies to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.
  • It provides for a conciliation mechanism in the event of disagreement between Denmark, on the one hand, and Switzerland or Lichtenstein, on the other, on its interpretation or application.

The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

Document or Iniciative

Human rights and democracy in the world: report on EU action – July 2008 to December 2009 , Council of the European Union – Brussels, 10 May 2010 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Human rights and democracy are founding values of the European Union (EU), which is committed to promoting them in its external relations. The aim of this eleventh annual report on human rights and democracy is to present an outline of the actions pursued by the EU in this field between 1 July 2008 and 31 December 2009.

Actions in non-EU countries

The EU has several instruments for implementing its policies on human rights and democracy.

During the eighteen months covered by this report, the EU adapted some of the guidelines on which its policy is based, including the guidelines for the promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law and those on human rights dialogues.

The EU currently holds dialogues focused on human rights with around forty countries. The EU makes respect for human rights an essential element of the agreements concluded with non-EU countries. Under the Cotonou Agreement, it has opened consultations with Fiji, Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger and Zimbabwe following violations of human rights and democracy in these countries.

The EU adopted numerous joint actions and common positions. These are legal instruments which define the position to be adopted by the European Union or the means of operational action to be undertaken against human rights violations or in crisis situations. It renewed and extended sanctions against people threatening the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire. Since December 2008, the EU has also conducted a naval operation against piracy off the coast of Somalia (operation EU NAVFOR ATALANTA).

6. In 2008-2009, the EU dedicated EUR 235 million to protecting human rights and democracy, specifically through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

Thematic issues

Many issues are at the heart of the EU’s human rights and democracy policy, in particular:

  • the death penalty, which has been abolished in Burundi and in the US state of New Mexico. The EU played a decisive role in the adoption of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution 63/168 in favour of a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The EU continued to express its concerns in this respect with the non-EU countries concerned. In particular, it intervened in individual cases in Iran, Zimbabwe, China, Bangladesh and Sudan;
  • children and armed conflicts. A process to evaluate the implementation of the EU’s guidelines on children and armed conflicts in priority countries has been initiated;
  • human rights defenders. The EU has reviewed its guidelines in this respect and drawn up implementation strategies for more than sixty countries;
  • the human rights of women. A set of guidelines on violence against women and combating all forms of discrimination against them has been adopted;
  • the International Criminal Court and the fight against impunity. The EU continues to promote the universality and integrity of the Rome Statute in many countries;
  • human rights and terrorism. The EU reaffirmed the need to ensure respect for human rights in counter-terrorism. It welcomed the United States’ decision to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre;
  • freedom of expression. Particular attention has been paid to the relationship between freedom of expression and new technologies;
  • election support. The EU deployed sixteen election observation missions during the period covered by this report;
  • asylum, migration, refugees and displaced persons. The adoption of the Stockholm Programme confirmed that the development of a European migration policy and the completion of a common European Asylum System remain key EU objectives;
  • trafficking in human beings. This is a priority of the new “Prevention of and fight against crime” financing programme;
  • rights of persons belonging to minorities. A European platform for Roma inclusion has been created;
  • rights of persons with disabilities. The EU continued the process towards its accession to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Role in international bodies

On the initiative of the EU, a new interregional resolution on the death penalty was adopted at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly. Two resolutions tabled by the EU denouncing human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Korea and in Burma were also adopted.

Cooperation between the EU and the Council of Europe continued in a satisfactory manner. One of the most important issues has been the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

As part of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union also participated in the dialogue on the future of European security, which dominated the OSCE agenda in 2009.

European Pact on Immigration and Asylum

European Pact on Immigration and Asylum

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Pact on Immigration and Asylum

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

European Pact on Immigration and Asylum

Document or Iniciative

European Pact on Immigration and Asylumof 24 September 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

International migration can contribute to the economic growth of the European Union (EU) as a whole, as well as provide resources for migrants and their home countries, and thus contribute to their development. It can be an opportunity, because it is a factor of human and economic exchange and enables people to achieve what they aspire to. However, there is a need to manage migration in a manner that takes account of Europe’s reception capacity in terms of its labour market, housing and health, education and social services, while protecting migrants against possible exploitation by criminal networks.

For over twenty years, EU countries have been working on harmonising their immigration and asylum policies. Significant progress has already been made on several issues, in particular under the Tampere and Hague Programmes. Nevertheless, further efforts are needed to create a truly common immigration and asylum policy that takes into consideration the collective interest of the EU, as well as the individual needs of EU countries. Consequently, the European Council translated the following commitments into the Stockholm Programme.

Organising legal immigration

Legal immigration should be organised in a manner that takes account of the priorities, needs and reception capacities of EU countries and encourages the integration of migrants. Broadly, this requires the EU to:

  • implement policies for labour migration that take account of the needs of the labour market of each country;
  • increase the attractiveness of the EU for highly skilled workers and take new measures to further facilitate the reception and mobility of students and researchers;
  • ensure that these policies do not aggravate brain drain by encouraging circular migration;
  • regulate family migration more effectively;
  • further strengthen the exchange of mutual information on migration;
  • improve information on the possibilities and conditions of legal migration;
  • establish ambitious policies to promote the harmonious integration of migrants;
  • promote the exchange of best practices in reception and integration and on EU measures to support national integration policies.

Controlling irregular immigration

To ensure that migrants without a legal authorisation to reside in an EU country return to their country of origin or transit, the EU should:

  • use regularisation on a case-by-case basis only;
  • conclude EU level or bilateral readmission agreements with relevant non-EU countries and evaluate the effectiveness of EU readmission agreements;
  • ensure that the risks of irregular migration are prevented within the policy frameworks on entry, residence, freedom of movement, etc.;
  • develop cooperation between EU countries on the removal of migrants without legal authorisation to reside in an EU country;
  • step up cooperation with countries of origin and transit as part of the Global Approach to Migration in order to control irregular immigration and to provide better information to communities under threat;
  • invite EU countries to devise incentive systems for assisted voluntary return;
  • take rigorous action through dissuasive and proportionate penalties against those exploiting immigrants without legal authorisation to reside in an EU country;
  • put into full effect the applicability within the Union of an expulsion decision taken by any EU country.

Improving border controls

To ensure the effective control of the Union’s external border, the EU as a whole should:

  • mobilise all available resources to more effectively control all external borders;
  • generalise the issuing of biometric visas from 1 January 2012 and strengthen EU countries’ consular cooperation in view of establishing joint consular services for visas;
  • provide the necessary resources to Frontex to fulfil its tasks;
  • in a spirit of solidarity, give full consideration to those EU countries receiving disproportionate influxes of immigrants;
  • use modern technological means to enable the effective integrated management of the EU’s external border;
  • strengthen cooperation with countries of origin and transit in the context of external border control and combating irregular immigration, including through increased support for the training and equipping of their migration authorities;
  • further develop the Schengen evaluation process.

Creating a Europe of asylum

Even though EU countries have progressed on the application of the common minimum standards for asylum, certain disparities continue to exist. Consequently, further work is needed in order to fully achieve a common European asylum system. Broadly, this requires the EU to:

  • set-up a European Asylum Support Office;
  • present proposals for a single asylum procedure and a uniform status for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection;
  • establish procedures for crisis situations to assist any EU country facing a massive influx of asylum seekers and to promote reallocation of beneficiaries of international protection to assist EU countries facing disproportionate pressures on their asylum systems due to their geographical or demographic situation;
  • strengthen collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to better protect asylum seekers outside the EU;
  • train external border control personnel on the rights and obligations relating to international protection.

Collaborating with countries of origin and transit

A comprehensive partnership must be created with non-EU countries of origin and transit in order to encourage synergy between migration and development. To this end, the EU should:

  • conclude EU level or bilateral agreements with countries of origin and transit that include items relating to legal and irregular migration, readmission and the development of these countries;
  • encourage EU countries to provide nationals of east and south European partner countries with opportunities for legal migration, particularly in the form of temporary/circular migration so as to avoid brain drain;
  • pursue policies with countries of origin and transit in order to deter or prevent irregular immigration, in particular through capacity building;
  • integrate migration and development policies more effectively;
  • promote co-development actions, such as the adoption of specific financial instruments for transferring remittances securely and more cheaply;
  • firmly implement actions agreed with partner regions, including Africa, east and south-east Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia;
  • speed up the deployment of the key tools of the Global Approach to Migration;
  • ensure that all these related actions are implemented consistently with the EU’s development cooperation and other relevant policies.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 6 May 2010 – First Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2009) [COM(2010) 214 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Commission staff working paper of 6 May 2010 – First Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2009) accompanying the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – First Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2009) [SEC(2010) 535 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 10 June 2009 – Tracking method for monitoring the implementation of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum [COM(2009) 266 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

A comprehensive European migration policy

A comprehensive European migration policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A comprehensive European migration policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

A comprehensive European migration policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 4 May 2011 – Communication on migration [COM(2011) 248 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Arab spring revolutions in 2011 resulted in a large influx of immigrants from the Southern Mediterranean, who entered the European Union (EU) illegally via the Italian and Maltese coasts. The EU took emergency measures in order to respond to this situation. However, these events have demonstrated the limited resources of the EU in immigration matters and the need for greater solidarity between the Member States in this area.

Therefore, the Commission presents initiatives aimed at establishing a comprehensive European migration policy which is better able to meet the challenges presented by migration. This policy must respect the European tradition of asylum and protection, while preventing illegal border crossings.

Several aspects of migration are addressed:

  • Crossing the borders

The EU’s external border controls must be effective and must enable a high level of security to be maintained while also facilitating the passage of persons authorised to enter the EU. The Commission intends to strengthen the existing common rules. In particular, it envisages creating a European system of border guards. It also insists on improving cooperation between national authorities and the exchange of operational information in the case of incidents at external borders, specifically via the EUROSUR system. The operational capacities of the Frontex agency must also be strengthened.

An evaluation of Member States’ application of the Schengen rules must be undertaken at EU level, with the participation of experts from Member States and Frontex, led by the Commission. The latter also intends to establish a mechanism allowing for a decision, at European level, defining which Member States would exceptionally reintroduce border controls at internal borders.

Lastly, to prevent irregular immigration, the Commission stresses the need for a balanced and effective European return policy (returning illegal immigrants who do not need international protection to their countries). It requires that all Member States transpose into their national law the Return Directive on common standards and procedures for returning illegal immigrants, and the Directive on sanctions against the employment of person staying illegally. Lastly, it recognises the effectiveness of readmission agreements with third countries, but also believes that the latter must be considered within the framework of the EU’s overall relations with the countries concerned and accompanied by incentives that help the countries to implement them.

  • Moving and living in the Schengen area

The Commission advocates better organised mobility based on cooperation (between the European agencies Frontex and Europol, and between customs authorities and national police authorities), and on new technologies. In particular, a European entry-exit system would enable data on border crossings by third country citizens to be made available to the authorities. In addition, a registered traveller programme would enable automated border control for frequent travellers.

Visa policy is also an important instrument in terms of mobility. In order to avoid abuse of visa liberalisation systems, the Commission proposes the introduction of a safeguard clause which would enable the temporary re-introduction of visa requirements for citizens from a third country benefiting from this system.

At the same time, the Union recognises that migrants constitute an indispensible workforce for the EU, both in terms of responding to labour shortages in certain areas, and in terms of providing a highly qualified workforce. It is therefore important to recognise their qualifications and to facilitate administrative procedures. The Commission hopes to make progress on the draft single permit authorising foreigners to live and work in a Member State and calls on the EU countries to transpose into their national law the Directive on the European Blue Card which facilitates the recruitment of highly qualified persons. It has also put forward proposals on seasonal workers and intra-corporate transferees. In order to provide migrants with clear and practical information, the Commission will launch an EU immigration portal this year.

Lastly, the integration of migrants into European society must respect the balance between the rights of the migrants and the law and culture of the receiving country. It requires efforts on the part of both migrants and receiving countries. Successful integration is essential for maximising the economic, social and cultural advantages of immigration, for individuals as well as societies. In July 2011, the Commission presented a European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals.

  • Common European Asylum System

The establishment of a Common European Asylum System must be completed by 2012. It aims to reduce the divergences between EU countries in the outcomes of asylum applications, and to ensure a common set of rights and procedures, as well as compliance with the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees. The European Asylum Support Office will strengthen cooperation in this area.

The Commission insists that the resettlement of refugees (permanent resettlement in a Member State of a refugee who has obtained protection in a third country) must become an integral part of European Asylum Policy.

  • Relations with third countries

Issues relating to migration must be integrated into the EU’s overall external relations. A better balance must be found between organising legal migration, combating irregular migration and maximising the mutual benefits of migration for development. The human dimension must also be strengthened through a migrant-centred approach.

With regard to the Southern Mediterranean countries, the Union has proposed a structured dialogue on migration with the aim of establishing mobility partnerships to facilitate access by their citizens to EU territory in exchange for their collaboration in managing migration flows. The Commission will also revise its Neighbourhood Policy with these countries.

Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Entry of refugees into the EU and enhancing protection for them in the countries of first asylum

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 4 June 2004 on the managed entry in the EU of persons in need of international protection and the enhancement of the protection capacity of the regions of origin: “improving access to durable solutions” [COM(2004)410 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

In this communication the Commission sets out recommendations for practical measures to implement the Thessaloniki mandate, given that the majority of applications for asylum in the EU do not fulfil the conditions for obtaining international protection. The Commission concludes that there is a need for better management of the entry of refugees into EU territory, looking ahead to a common asylum policy.

In an effort to find lasting solutions to the influx of refugees into the EU, the Commission focuses on three elements of asylum policy: the managed entry of asylum-seekers into the EU, enhanced protection in the regions of origin and the creation of EU regional protection programmes.

Managed entry of refugees into the EU

The Commission believes that the resettlement of refugees, which is often given a lower priority than voluntary repatriation, could play an important part in EU asylum policy. It therefore advocates the introduction of an EU-wide resettlement programme. All Member States would participate, but the scheme would be flexible and non-binding.

The main objective of the resettlement programme would be to provide international protection by facilitating the organised arrival of refugees in the EU. The programme’s watchword would be flexibility and it would be situation-specific. It would target a constant but limited number of refugees and could be adjusted according to the capacity of the Member States to accommodate asylum-seekers. Targets would be set at European level.

Resettlement would primarily affect individuals qualifying for international protection and groups of refugees regarded by the EU as particularly vulnerable. Candidates would be selected on the basis of interviews with the immigration services of the Member States during visits to the region of origin. The selection criteria could be agreed collectively or be specific to the Member States. There could be a role for NGOs in helping candidates to prepare their dossiers.

The logistical arrangements could be modelled on the resettlement programmes currently operating in certain European countries under the auspices of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Transport could be organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The EU would also provide technical assistance to the Member States for the preparation, referral, and selection of resettlement cases.

Protection of refugees in the regions of origin

The Commission agrees with the UNHCR that the international community should equip the countries of first asylum with the necessary means to be able to guarantee refugees protection that meets international standards. The Commission therefore emphasises the need to help these countries, located in the regions from which refugees originate, to enhance their legal and administrative capacity and to ensure greater respect for human rights and the rule of law.

In practical terms, the Commission advocates more efficient processing of asylum applications and better integration of applicants from third countries in the region of origin. Refugees will then be able to integrate in one of these countries of first asylum if there is no possibility of them returning to their country of origin or being resettled.

In the Commission’s view, the system of protection for refugees should serve two purposes: to assess and enhance the sustainable protection capacity of the host country. In the medium to long term, the aim would be to introduce targeted technical assistance based on the following principles:

  • accession and adherence to refugee instruments and other international humanitarian law treaties;
  • the creation of national legal frameworks consistent with international rules on refugees and asylum;
  • registration of asylum-seekers and refugees and preparation of detailed written documentation on their applications;
  • the establishment of admission and reception conditions for asylum-seekers that comply with the relevant national and international standards;
  • support for economic self-reliance and local integration of refugees and asylum-seekers.

The Commission believes that the ability of a state to offer effective protection to asylum-seekers can be assessed in the light of compliance with certain principles:

  • there is no threat to life and liberty on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion;
  • the principle of non-refoulement is respected;
  • the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is respected, as is the prohibition on any form of removal that would expose the asylum-seeker to the risk of such treatment;
  • it is possible to apply for refugee status and receive protection under the Geneva Convention;
  • it is possible to live a safe and dignified life.

The Commission proposes using as a reference point the new AENEAS programme for financial and technical assistance to third countries in the area of migration and asylum. This financial instrument would enable Member States, third countries, international organisations and NGOs to set up projects to enhance refugee protection capacity in the countries of their region of origin.

EU regional protection programmes

In order to enhance the protection capacity of third countries and to manage the entry of refugees into European territory more effectively, the Commission was asked to propose EU regional protection programmes, to be devised in partnership with the third countries of the region in question. These multiannual programmes would be accompanied by:

  • a list and an agenda for action
  • projects to be implemented in the area of asylum and migration
  • regional and country strategy papers.

They would also provide the framework for action by the Member States in a given country or region. The UNHCR would play a crucial role in the development and implementation of these programmes.

These EU regional protection programmes would provide a “tool box” of protection measures comprising:

  • action to enhance protection capacity;
  • a biometric registration scheme;
  • an EU-wide resettlement scheme;
  • assistance for improving the local infrastructure;
  • aid to promote local integration of asylum-seekers;
  • cooperation on legal migration;
  • action on migration management;
  • return policy.

Background

The General Affairs and External Relations Council on 19 May 2003 had urged the Commission to examine ways of strengthening the reception capacity of third countries, for example through development cooperation. The analysis was to take into account the financial and institutional capacity of many developing countries and the burden that refugees might place on these structures.

The European Council in Thessaloniki on 19 and 20 June 2003 then asked the Commission to consider ways of improving the management of entry into the EU of refugees requiring international protection and ensuring better protection in their regions of origin.

Finally, in October 2003, at a seminar organised by the Italian EU Presidency in Rome, the Member States defended the idea of an EU-wide resettlement programme. This would be a useful tool that would allow policy-makers to find comprehensive solutions to refugee situations and to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking. The managed arrival of asylum-seekers would also be a way of counteracting racism and xenophobia, because public opinion would probably be more receptive.

Related Acts

Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted [Official Journal L 304, 30.09.2004]

Communication from the Commission of 3 June 2003 “Towards more accessible, equitable and managed asylum systems” [COM(2003) 315 final – Official Journal C 76/21 of 25.03.2004] 
The Commission notes the failings of the current system of international protection and concludes that a common European asylum system needed to be put in place progressively. It identifies three objectives:

  • managed arrival of asylum-seekers on EU territory;
  • burden- and responsibility sharing within the EU and with the regions of origin;
  • the introduction of efficient procedures resulting in enforceable decisions on asylum and return.

Communication from the Commission of 26 March 2003 on the common asylum policy and the Agenda for protection [COM(2003) 152 final – Official Journal C 76/2 of 25.03.2004]
In this communication, the Commission considers ways of ensuring that the Member States’ human and financial resources were invested more effectively in the reception of asylum-seekers. It identifies three complementary objectives for improving the management of asylum:

  • improving the quality of decisions in the EU;
  • consolidating protection capacity and the processing of protection requests in the region of origin, with a view to sharing responsibilities with the third countries;
  • regulated access to the EU for certain people requiring international protection.

Communication from the Commission of 3 December 2002 “Integrating migration issues in the European Union’s relations with third countries” [COM(2002) 703 final – Not published in the Official Journal]
This communication presents the various measures taken by the Community for refugees, with particular reference to humanitarian aid and development cooperation. The Commission concludes that this assistance is neither sufficient nor adapted to the needs of long-term refugees. It also underlines the importance of initiatives linking emergency aid and rehabilitation to development cooperation and cites Community initiatives such as the European Development Fund (EDF) the MEDA programme and the CARDS programme

Communication from the Commission of 22 November 2000 “Towards a common asylum procedure and a uniform status, valid throughout the Union, for persons granted asylum” [COM(2000) 755 final – Not published in the Official Journal]
In this communication the Commission suggests that processing asylum applications in the region of origin, combined with a resettlement scheme, could be a way of offering protection to refugees and ensuring that they did not fall victim to gangs engaged in illegal immigration or trafficking. An added advantage would be that asylum-seekers would not have to wait for years to obtain recognition of their status.

 

The Stockholm Programme

The Stockholm Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Stockholm Programme

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

The Stockholm Programme

Document or Iniciative

The Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens [Official Journal C 115 of 4.5.2010].

Summary

The Stockholm Programme sets out the European Union’s (EU) priorities for the area of justice, freedom and security for the period 2010-14. Building on the achievements of its predecessors the Tampere and Hague programmes, it aims to meet future challenges and further strengthen the area of justice, freedom and security with actions focusing on the interests and needs of citizens.

In order to provide a secure Europe where the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens are respected, the Stockholm Programme focuses on the following priorities:

Europe of rights

European citizenship must be transformed from an abstract idea into a concrete reality. It must confer on EU nationals the fundamental rights and freedoms set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. EU citizens must be able to exercise these rights within as well as outside the EU, while knowing that their privacy is respected, especially in terms of protection of personal data. The Europe of rights must be an area in which:

  • citizens and their family members may exercise in full the right to free movement;
  • diversity is respected and the most vulnerable groups of people (children, minorities such as Roma, victims of violence, etc.) are protected, while racism and xenophobia are tackled;
  • the rights of suspected and accused persons are protected in criminal proceedings;
  • EU citizenship promotes citizens’ participation in the democratic life of the EU through transparent decision-making, access to documents and good administration, as well as guarantees citizens the right to consular protection outside the EU.

Europe of justice

A European area of justice must be realised throughout the EU. Access to justice for citizens must be facilitated, so that their rights are better enforced within the EU. At the same time, cooperation between judicial authorities and the mutual recognition of court decisions within the EU must be further developed in both civil and criminal cases. To this end, EU countries should make use of e-Justice (information and communication technologies in the field of justice), adopt common minimum rules to approximate criminal and civil law standards, and strengthen mutual trust. The EU must also aim to achieve coherence with the international legal order in order to create a secure legal environment for interacting with non EU-countries.

Europe that protects

The Stockholm Programme recommends the development of an internal security strategy for the EU, with a view to improving the protection of citizens and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Within the spirit of solidarity, the strategy will aim to enhance police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as well as cooperation in border management, civil protection and disaster management. The internal security strategy will consist of a pro-active, horizontal and cross-cutting approach with clearly divided tasks for the EU and its countries. It will focus on the fight against cross-border crime, such as:

  • trafficking in human beings;
  • sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;
  • cyber crime;
  • economic crime, corruption, counterfeiting and piracy;
  • drugs.

In the fight against cross-border crime, internal security is necessarily linked to external security. Therefore, account must be taken of the EU external security strategy and cooperation strengthened with non-EU countries.

Access to Europe

The EU must further develop its integrated border management and visa policies to make legal access to Europe efficient for non-EU nationals, while ensuring the security of its own citizens. Strong border controls are necessary to counter illegal immigration and cross-border crime. At the same time, access must be guaranteed to those in need of international protection and to vulnerable groups of people, such as unaccompanied minors. Consequently, the role of Frontex (the European external borders agency) must be reinforced so that it can respond more effectively to existing and future challenges. The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the Visa Information System (VIS) are also essential for reinforcing the system of external border controls and must therefore be made fully operational. Work must also continue on the development of the common visa policy and on intensifying regional consular cooperation.

Europe of solidarity

On the basis of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the EU must develop a comprehensive and flexible migration policy. This policy should centre on solidarity and responsibility, and address the needs of both EU countries and migrants. It should take into consideration the labour-market needs of EU countries, while minimising brain-drain from non-EU countries. Vigorous integration policies that guarantee the rights of migrants must also be put in place. Furthermore, a common migration policy must include an effective and sustainable return policy, while work needs to continue on preventing, controlling and combating illegal immigration. There is also a need to strengthen dialogue and partnerships with non-EU countries (both transit and origin), in particular through the further development of the Global Approach to Migration.

Efforts must be made to set up the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2012. In this regard, the development of the European Asylum Support Office is essential. By providing a common asylum procedure for EU countries and a uniform status for those who have been granted international protection, the CEAS would create an area of protection and solidarity within the EU.

Europe in a globalised world

The external dimension of EU policy must also be taken into consideration in the area of justice, freedom and security. This will assist in addressing the related challenges the EU is facing today, as well as strengthen opportunities for cooperating with non-EU countries. EU action in this field is to adhere to the following principles:

  • maintaining a single external relations policy for the EU;
  • working in partnership with non-EU countries (including candidate, neighbouring and EEA/Schengen countries, the United States of America and the Russian Federation);
  • promoting European and international standards and values, as well as ratification of United Nations, Council of Europe and the Hague Conference of Private International Law Conventions;
  • exchanging information on bi- and multilateral activities;
  • acting in the spirit of solidarity, coherence and complementarity;
  • using all available instruments and resources effectively;
  • informing on, monitoring and evaluating actions in the external dimension of justice and home affairs;
  • using a proactive approach to external relations.

The Stockholm Programme is implemented through an action plan that will be adopted by June 2010.


Another Normative about The Stockholm Programme

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

The Stockholm Programme

Document or Iniciative

The Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens [Official Journal C 115 of 4.5.2010].

Summary

The Stockholm Programme sets out the European Union’s (EU) priorities for the area of justice, freedom and security for the period 2010-14. Building on the achievements of its predecessors the Tampere and Hague programmes, it aims to meet future challenges and further strengthen the area of justice, freedom and security with actions focusing on the interests and needs of citizens.

In order to provide a secure Europe where the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens are respected, the Stockholm Programme focuses on the following priorities:

Europe of rights

European citizenship must be transformed from an abstract idea into a concrete reality. It must confer on EU nationals the fundamental rights and freedoms set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. EU citizens must be able to exercise these rights within as well as outside the EU, while knowing that their privacy is respected, especially in terms of protection of personal data. The Europe of rights must be an area in which:

  • citizens and their family members may exercise in full the right to free movement;
  • diversity is respected and the most vulnerable groups of people (children, minorities such as Roma, victims of violence, etc.) are protected, while racism and xenophobia are tackled;
  • the rights of suspected and accused persons are protected in criminal proceedings;
  • EU citizenship promotes citizens’ participation in the democratic life of the EU through transparent decision-making, access to documents and good administration, as well as guarantees citizens the right to consular protection outside the EU.

Europe of justice

A European area of justice must be realised throughout the EU. Access to justice for citizens must be facilitated, so that their rights are better enforced within the EU. At the same time, cooperation between judicial authorities and the mutual recognition of court decisions within the EU must be further developed in both civil and criminal cases. To this end, EU countries should make use of e-Justice (information and communication technologies in the field of justice), adopt common minimum rules to approximate criminal and civil law standards, and strengthen mutual trust. The EU must also aim to achieve coherence with the international legal order in order to create a secure legal environment for interacting with non EU-countries.

Europe that protects

The Stockholm Programme recommends the development of an internal security strategy for the EU, with a view to improving the protection of citizens and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Within the spirit of solidarity, the strategy will aim to enhance police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as well as cooperation in border management, civil protection and disaster management. The internal security strategy will consist of a pro-active, horizontal and cross-cutting approach with clearly divided tasks for the EU and its countries. It will focus on the fight against cross-border crime, such as:

  • trafficking in human beings;
  • sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;
  • cyber crime;
  • economic crime, corruption, counterfeiting and piracy;
  • drugs.

In the fight against cross-border crime, internal security is necessarily linked to external security. Therefore, account must be taken of the EU external security strategy and cooperation strengthened with non-EU countries.

Access to Europe

The EU must further develop its integrated border management and visa policies to make legal access to Europe efficient for non-EU nationals, while ensuring the security of its own citizens. Strong border controls are necessary to counter illegal immigration and cross-border crime. At the same time, access must be guaranteed to those in need of international protection and to vulnerable groups of people, such as unaccompanied minors. Consequently, the role of Frontex (the European external borders agency) must be reinforced so that it can respond more effectively to existing and future challenges. The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the Visa Information System (VIS) are also essential for reinforcing the system of external border controls and must therefore be made fully operational. Work must also continue on the development of the common visa policy and on intensifying regional consular cooperation.

Europe of solidarity

On the basis of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the EU must develop a comprehensive and flexible migration policy. This policy should centre on solidarity and responsibility, and address the needs of both EU countries and migrants. It should take into consideration the labour-market needs of EU countries, while minimising brain-drain from non-EU countries. Vigorous integration policies that guarantee the rights of migrants must also be put in place. Furthermore, a common migration policy must include an effective and sustainable return policy, while work needs to continue on preventing, controlling and combating illegal immigration. There is also a need to strengthen dialogue and partnerships with non-EU countries (both transit and origin), in particular through the further development of the Global Approach to Migration.

Efforts must be made to set up the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2012. In this regard, the development of the European Asylum Support Office is essential. By providing a common asylum procedure for EU countries and a uniform status for those who have been granted international protection, the CEAS would create an area of protection and solidarity within the EU.

Europe in a globalised world

The external dimension of EU policy must also be taken into consideration in the area of justice, freedom and security. This will assist in addressing the related challenges the EU is facing today, as well as strengthen opportunities for cooperating with non-EU countries. EU action in this field is to adhere to the following principles:

  • maintaining a single external relations policy for the EU;
  • working in partnership with non-EU countries (including candidate, neighbouring and EEA/Schengen countries, the United States of America and the Russian Federation);
  • promoting European and international standards and values, as well as ratification of United Nations, Council of Europe and the Hague Conference of Private International Law Conventions;
  • exchanging information on bi- and multilateral activities;
  • acting in the spirit of solidarity, coherence and complementarity;
  • using all available instruments and resources effectively;
  • informing on, monitoring and evaluating actions in the external dimension of justice and home affairs;
  • using a proactive approach to external relations.

The Stockholm Programme is implemented through an action plan that will be adopted by June 2010.

The Hague Programme: 10 priorities for the next five years

The Hague Programme: 10 priorities for the next five years

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Hague Programme: 10 priorities for the next five years

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

The Hague Programme: 10 priorities for the next five years

How can we strengthen the area of freedom, security and justice within the European Union? The Commission’s answer to this question consists of 10 priorities for the next five years.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 10 May 2005 – The Hague Programme: ten priorities for the next five years. The Partnership for European renewal in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice [COM(2005) 184 final – Official Journal C 236 of 24.9.2005].

Summary

The multiannual Hague Programme, adopted at the European Council of 4 and 5 November 2004, sets out 10 priorities for the Union with a view to strengthening the area of freedom, security and justice in the next five years. An annex to the communication sets out specific measures and a timetable for their adoption (see also Action Plan).

The Commission feels that efforts should be concentrated on the following 10 priorities:

Strengthening fundamental rights and citizenship. The Union plans to monitor and promote the observance of fundamental rights in European policies. Among other things, it converted the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia into the European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in January 2007. The Commission will devote special attention to children’s rights and to continuing its efforts to combat violence against women. It also intends to work against all kinds of discrimination and to ensure the protection of personal data. The way in which the rights conferred by European citizenship – such as free movement within the Union and voting rights in European Parliament and local elections – are exercised must also be improved. The measures adopted by the Commission include inter alia the “Fundamental Rights and Justice” framework programme and assessment reports on how successfully directives regarding the right to move and reside freely are applied.

Anti-terrorist measures. A comprehensive response to terrorism is the only way to combat it effectively. The approach must be integrated and coherent. The Commission emphasises the need for terrorism prevention and exchanging information. Its intention is to support Member States in their fight against terrorism by focusing on terrorism recruitment and financing, prevention, risk analysis, protection of vulnerable infrastructure and consequence management. Terrorism and its causes can only be combated effectively through cooperation with third countries. The measures adopted by the Commission to achieve its objectives include: proposals aimed at strengthening cooperation between the law-enforcement services of Member States, particularly by improved exchanges of information, a European framework for the protection of related data, a communication on the protection of critical infrastructure, a communication on the prevention of and the fight against terrorism financing, a proposal on preventing the misuse of charitable organisations for the financing of terrorism and monitoring the pilot project in place for the victims of terrorism.

Defining a balanced approach to migration. The Commission intends to come up with a new, balanced approach to dealing with legal and illegal immigration. This involves fighting illegal immigration and the trafficking of human beings, especially women and children. The Hague Programme provides for the adoption of a communication and a plan for legal immigration.

The proper management of migration flows also involves greater cooperation with third countries in all fields, including the readmission and return of migrants. The measures introduced by the Commission to achieve this include the “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows” framework programme, which covers the creation of an External Borders Fund, an Integration Fund, a Return Fund and a European Refugee Fund.

Developing integrated management of the Union’s external borders. Within the Union, the free movement of persons is made possible by the removal of internal border controls. This requires greater efforts to strengthen the integrated management of external borders. The FRONTEX-Agency has been set up to manage external borders and may be given additional tasks in the future. Equally important is the creation of an effective visa policy through development of, for example, a visa information system and, in the future, a common European consular service. One of the short-term priorities is to make identity and travel documents more secure by equipping them with biometric identifiers.

Setting up a common asylum procedure
. The Commission aims to set up a harmonised and effective asylum procedure. In the short-term, it will be submitting a proposal for a directive concerning long-term resident status for refugees and in the medium-term, once the way in which existing legislation is being applied has been assessed, it will propose a common procedure and status for refugees. Operational cooperation in the field of asylum will be continued and maintained, notably by way of the European Refugee Fund.

Maximising the positive impact of immigration. Immigrant communities must be integrated if they are not to become isolated and excluded from society. The Commission encourages Member States to push ahead with their integration policies in order to help improve mutual understanding and dialogue between religions and cultures. It also intends to set up a European framework for integration and to promote a structural exchange of experience and information on integration.

Striking the right balance between privacy and security while sharing information. Law-enforcement authorities must be able to share information if they are to fight terrorism and investigate cross-border crime effectively. The Union must support constructive dialogue between all interested parties in order to find solutions accommodating both the availability of information and the observance of fundamental rights, such as the protection of privacy and the protection of data. The European Police Office (Europol) has a central role in this context.

Developing a strategic concept on tackling organised crime. Cooperation between Member States’ law-enforcement authorities, such as the police or customs, must be improved in the fight against organised crime. Working towards a European model for criminal intelligence is a priority. Therefore, the Commission adopted a communication on developing a strategic concept on tackling organised crime in 2005.

A genuine European area of justice. Access to justice must be guaranteed in order for judgments to be made and enforced. The Union must take steps to instil mutual confidence between Member States by laying down minimum procedural standards, which for example safeguard the right of defence.

As regards civil legal matters, the Commission is focusing on completing its mutual recognition programme for judgments in civil and commercial matters. To this end, it has initiated consultations regarding judgments on family property, succession and wills with a view to drawing up new legislative proposals.

As regards criminal legal matters, legislation must sometimes be approximated and minimum legal procedural standards must be set up if mutual confidence between Member States is to be strengthened. Eurojust is the key player as regards judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The Commission also wishes to see greater protection of the Union’s financial interests. Operational measures to safeguard a genuine European area of justice include: Union support for judicial organisations and institution networks, justice quality assessment, a communication on legal training in the EU and seminars to promote cooperation between legal practitioners.

Sharing responsibility and solidarity. No political objective can be met without adequate funding. The Hague Programme was adopted at a time when the Commission was preparing its proposals for the financial perspective 2007-13; this made it possible to ensure that the objectives of the Hague Programme were in line with the financial means available for them over the same period. In April 2005, the Commission presented three framework programmes examining which type of political and financial instruments most effectively enable the objectives of freedom, security and justice to be met.

The Commission attaches great importance to the implementation of provisions and to how it can assess and evaluate such implementation by Member States. Political flexibility in matters concerning justice, freedom and security enables political priorities to be shuffled in response to unexpected events, such as the London attacks of 7 July 2005. The nature and scale of such events are often international. The Action Plan should therefore also be flexible and adaptable. The European Council wished to have a midterm-review , and the Commission provided annual “scoreboards” on the state of implementation of the Hague Programme.

Related Acts

Council and Commission Action Plan implementing the Hague Programme on strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union [Official Journal C 198 of 12.8.2005].
This Action Plan is intended to serve as a frame of reference for the work of the Council and the Commission for 2004-09. It contains a timetable for the adoption and implementation of the actions set out in the Plan that were designed to put into practice the priorities and objectives of the Hague Programme (strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU) adopted as a result of the above communication. These measures – legislative proposals, consultation documents (green papers) and reports – are designed to give a practical aspect to the Hague Programme in an effective way.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 June 2009 – Justice, freedom and security in Europe since 2005: an evaluation of the Hague Programme and Action Plan [COM(2009) 263 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In this communication, the Commission presents the evaluations of the implementation of the Hague Programme at both the EU and Member State levels as well as the themes to guide future action within the next multiannual programme (the Stockholm Programme).
Initiatives in the field of justice, freedom and security are relatively recent compared to other actions taken at the EU-level. Nevertheless, progress has been achieved on a number of measures, such as on the protection of fundamental rights, asylum and immigration policies, border management and visa policy, anti-terrorism and the fight against crime, as well as police cooperation.
The realisation of a European area of justice has also progressed, especially through improved cross-border judicial cooperation in both civil and criminal matters. Significant progress has been made in particular on the legislative and operational aspects of the principle on mutual recognition, which is the cornerstone of judicial cooperation.
While the fight against drugs has also been effective, drug use in certain Member States has increased.
Less progress has been made on the rights of EU citizens, in particular due to the deficient transposition by Member States of Directive 2004/38/EC on the free movement of citizens within the Union.
In general though, most of the specific measures set out in the Hague Programme have been adopted, though the full impact of many of them will be realised only in the longer term. Nevertheless, due to the specific nature of the justice, freedom and security policy area, progress has been relatively uneven. For example, decision-making under the “third pillar” has been slow and at times limiting the desired outcomes. In addition, transposition by Member States of legislative instruments falling under the “third pillar” is often delayed and no recourse exists for formal infringement procedures. The Lisbon Treaty, once in effect, should speed up decision-making, while future action should focus on consolidating and enforcing the existing legal framework.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 2 July 2008 – Report on Implementation of the Hague Programme for 2007 [COM(2008) 373 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This third annual report (“scoreboard”) illustrates a relatively similar trend with regard to progress as the previous reports (below). However, the overall assessment is rather unsatisfactory, with the rate of achievement only 38% compared to 53% in 2006. A higher number of actions were also either delayed or abandoned altogether as compared to 2006.
As in previous years, insufficient progress was made in particular on the “third pillar” actions, namely on the prevention of and fight against organised crime, police and customs cooperation, and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Nevertheless, good progress was made in the fight against terrorism, which remains a political priority within Justice and Home Affairs. Significant developments were also made in the other priority areas that fall under the “first pillar”. These include migration and border policy, and judicial cooperation in civil matters. However, progress on visa policy was not perceived as sufficient.
Some Member States have made considerable progress with national transposition, in contrast to previous years. Yet, many continue to miss the transposition deadlines by one or more years. Furthermore, for some of the legal instruments, transposition by Member States has been incomplete or even incorrect. Consequently, decision-making should be improved within the area of Justice and Home Affairs.
As a result of the insufficient progress made on certain actions over the past few years, the Commission is aiming to present a communication on the future of justice, freedom and security policies in 2009. This communication should not only further developments in this policy area, but also serve as the starting point for the next multiannual (2010-14) programme.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 3 July 2007 – Report on the implementation of the Hague Programme for 2006 [COM(2007) 373 final –Official Journal C 191 of 17.8.2007].
The overall assessment of the Hague Programme was mixed: 53% of the actions were achieved but progress was not consistent in all policy areas.
Progress was made in “first pillar” areas such as fundamental rights, citizenship, civil justice, the European drugs strategy, asylum and migration, and visa and border policies. However, delays occurred in “third pillar” areas such as police and judicial cooperation, where unanimity was required.
The “scoreboard” shows that implementation at national level was not satisfactory. A number of Member States missed the deadlines for transposing the legal instruments into national law, in some cases by one or more years.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 June 2006 – Report on the implementation of the Hague Programme for 2005 [COM(2006) 333 final – Official Journal C 184 of 8.8.2006].
This communication examines the state of play on each measure scheduled in the Hague Programme for 2005, or on a regular/ongoing basis in the Hague Action Plan. In addition to this monitoring of the adoption process, and for the first time as part of such an exercise for justice, freedom and security policies, it looks into the monitoring of the national implementation of these policies. This initial assessment reveals that, despite progress achieved by the Union in “communitised” justice, freedom and security policies such as judicial cooperation in civil matters, unanimous voting delayed the adoption of priority policies under the Hague Programme, such as those concerning the first phase of the European asylum system. At a national level, both the adoption and implementation of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (the “third pillar”) remain especially problematic.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 June 2006 – Evaluation of EU Policies on Freedom, Security and Justice [COM(2006) 332 final – Official Journal C 184 of 8.8.2006].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 June 2006 – Implementing the Hague Programme: the way forward [COM(2006) 331 final – Official Journal C 184 of 8.8.2006].