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Area of freedom, security and justice

It was decided to establish an area of freedom, security and justice, with the aim of ensuring genuine freedom of movement for individuals on the territory of the European Union and a higher level of security through more effective action against crime, racism and xenophobia.

The "Area of freedom, security and justice" is covered by Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It deals with policies on border checks, asylum and immigration, with judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, and with police cooperation. Decisions in these fields are mostly taken by qualified majority voting. The European Parliament has co-decision powers with the Council in the majority policy areas (ordinary legislative procedure).

Opt-out arrangements exist for the United Kingdom and Ireland, though they have decided to opt-in on most initiatives concerning the area of freedom, security and justice. Denmark exercises full opt-out from this area.

Matters relating to justice and home affairs used to be dealt with solely under the intergovernmental rules, in particular under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union (the "third pillar"). The Amsterdam Treaty "communitised" asylum, immigration and judicial cooperation in civil matters, moving them under Title IV of the Treaty establishing the European Community ("first pillar"). The Lisbon Treaty regrouped all these in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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