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Area of Justice, Freedom and Security

The development of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) as a dynamic policy area of the European Union (EU) has been one of the most astonishing developments of the 1990s. Co-operation between EU Member States (M.S.) in this field began in the mid-1970s in an informal and intergovernmental framework separated from the European Community system of decision making. With the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty) on 1 November 1993, co-operation in JHA was included in the EU Treaties forming the third pillar (Title VI TEU) within the field of intergovernmental co-operation.

The Treaty of Amsterdam, which came into force on 1 May 1999, made EU policies in JHA a fundamental Treaty objective, Article 2 TEU providing for the maintenance and the development of the EU as an "Area of freedom, security and justice" (AFSJ). The Treaty of Amsterdam made a major move towards "communitarisation" by the transfer of matters of asylum, immigration, external border controls and judicial co-operation in civil matters into the new Title IV of the EC Treaty. As a result, the above mentioned policy areas were transferred to the supranational "first pillar" of the EU. In this way, M.S. have for the first time agreed to bring key areas of JHA within the remit of the most supranational of the European Treaties. Only judicial co-operation in criminal matters and police co-operation remained within the intergovernmental domain of Title VI TEU (third pillar).

The Tampere European Council (October 1999) was the first to address the development of the EU as a unified region of freedom, security and justice and was considered to be the natural follow-up to the Amsterdam Treaty by defining a number of political priorities, to which the policies of M-S should conform by the end of year 2004 in the following areas:

Area of Freedom: free movement of persons in accordance with the Schengen acquis, the protection of human rights and suppression of all forms of discrimination.

Area of Security: fight against crime especially through police and customs co-operation.

Area of Justice: improvement of co-operation between national judicial authorities and better access to justice by EU citizens.

Monitoring of the implementation rate of the relevant programme was made possible by:

a. The submission to the Council by the European Commission of a Scoreboard, updated every six months to keep track of the progress made. This Scoreboard is a set of tables listing the EU's objectives in this field as well as action planned and taken on each point.

b. An interim assessment during the European Council meeting in December 2001, which took place in Laaken, where an overall assessment of the progress was made and a new impetus was given.

During the extraordinary European Council on 21 September 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist events of September 11, the importance of the Tampere conclusions and the relevant timetable were emphasised. Acceleration of the promotion and implementation of the necessary courses of action was requested.

At the European Council of Seville (June 21-22, 2002), satisfaction was expressed regarding the results attained within the framework of the overall action plan for the combating of illegal immigration, and the coming Presidencies were called upon to continue to give priority position to immigration issues in their task timetables. The whole process towards an area of Freedom, Security and Justice was further promoted and enhanced by the conclusions adopted by the Thessaloniki European Council (June 19-20, 2003).

The Amsterdam Treaty imposed a 5-year timeframe with a deadline of 1 May 2004 for the adoption of a range of specified measures directed at the establishment of an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. It also marks the end of the more ambitious 5-year programme agreed upon at the Tampere European Council.

Last Updated Thursday, 04 May 2017


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