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EU outlines priorities for justice and home affairs to 2020

The EU wants to focus in the next few years on progress towards the European area of freedom, justice and security.

A passport is checked under an airport scanner © EU


Covering issues such as citizens’ rights, asylum and security, the priorities aim to help ensure that Europe is an open, prosperous and safe place to live and work.

A common area of justice

Creating a European area of justice is a key aim of the Lisbon Treaty. Achievements in the past 5 years include better access to justice and ensuring the right to a fair trial.

To address key remaining challenges – such as obstacles to free movement - the EU has suggested a focus on:

  • ensuring the necessary tools are in place in each country to turn European rights into a reality on the ground
  • streamlining existing legislation, to make rights more accessible for people and businesses
  • improving government trust of other EU countries' justice systems.

Managing migration

At the same time, the EU aims to work more closely in dealing with migration, asylum and security.

Priorities identified include:

  • making better use of the opportunities offered by migration, particularly when coping with the challenge of an ageing population and declining labour force in Europe.
  • reducing illegal immigration, for example, by taking action against those who employ illegal workers.
  • dealing with asylum applications in a way that shares responsibility between European countries and provides support when pressure is high. Joint processing of applications at times of emergency is one idea that could be explored.
  • keeping Europe open and secure through the cooperation of law enforcement agencies to tackle challenges such as cybercrime, human trafficking and terrorism. Efforts might include joint training programmes and better sharing of information.

What next?

The priorities, outlined by the European Commission, will be discussed with the European Parliament and European Council in June. The finalised set of priorities will take effect from December.

Press release – EU home affairs: the next phase 

Press release – Towards a European area of justice 

Q&A – Future of justice and home affairs agendas

EU takes action to protect rule of law


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