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The Stockholm Programme

The Stockholm Programme provides a roadmap for European Union (EU) work in the area of justice, freedom and security for the period 2010-14.

ACT

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.

Last updated: 16.03.2010

See also

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