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The external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice

Justice, freedom and security maintain international stability and security, both within and outside the European Union (EU). This Communication establishes a strategy for reinforcing the justice, freedom and security aspects of the EU's external relations policy.

ACT

Commission Communication: A strategy on the external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice [COM(2005) 491 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

This Communication emphasises the way in which the external aspects of justice and home affairs at global level contribute to creating an area of freedom, security and justice within the European Union (EU). For example, promoting the rule of law outside the EU through cooperation is essential and contributes to sustainable development. Moreover, societies founded on such values as good governance and democracy more effectively resist external threats which can also affect international security.

Facing a range of challenges

The area of freedom, security and justice must face up to a whole range of challenges which originate outside the EU as well as within it, namely:

  • terrorist attacks such as those of 11 September 2001, 11 March 2004 and 7 July 2005;
  • the growth of organised crime;
  • illegal immigration;
  • the failure of institutions, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies;
  • guaranteeing legal certainty and predictability for cross-border trade in a globalised economy.

Reinforcing the justice, freedom and security aspects of external relations

Although the instruments for the external aspects of EU freedom, security and justice policy already exist, the European Council of 16 and 17 June stated that for the first time a strategy needed to be adopted on the external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice. This strategy must form an integral part of the EU's external relations policy, but the justice, freedom and security aspects must be reinforced.

The Communication stresses the need to enhance international cooperation. Free movement within the EU, more open borders and increased global integration have added a new dimension to international cooperation. Efficient border management is necessary to fight threats such as terrorism and organised crime, and it also contributes to good relations with neighbouring States. For instance, cooperation with the Turkish authorities has led to major seizures of drugs within the EU.

The Communication also recommends fostering the rule of law through cooperation in order to guarantee security both inside and outside the EU. The Commission wishes to make the area of security, freedom and justice in the EU a source of inspiration for other countries. The EU's experience and success in issues such as border management and fighting organised crime are a useful point of reference for other countries facing similar challenges.

Regional cooperation must be encouraged because cross-border problems such as migration and border management are often most effectively solved through concerted regional action. The Commission supports multilateral approaches in international organisations with a view to enhancing its role in those organisations and promoting the development of new international instruments.

Guidance for policy towards non-EU countries: geographical priorities and objectives

The Communication also sets out the principles that must guide policy towards non-EU countries; these are:

  • establishing geographical priorities within policies on enlargement, development and external relations in accordance with the EU's special relations with certain regions and non-EU countries;
  • appropriate strategies for arriving at tailored responses to the specific situations of individual countries and regions;
  • flexibility of programming to allow flexibility regarding priorities;
  • "inter-pillar" coordination: external action in the fields of justice, freedom and security often falls under different areas of competence of the Community, the CFSP or police and judicial cooperation, and this means that close coordination is needed between the Council and the Commission to guarantee coherence in the EU's external activities;
  • partnership with non-EU countries in enlargement, external relations and development policies in the fields of justice, freedom and security;
  • relevance of external action, i.e. establishing a link between internal and external activities concerning the area of freedom, security and justice;
  • added value through regular exchange of information between the Commission and the Member States on the activities conducted in non-EU countries;
  • benchmarking: all actions must include evaluation mechanisms to assess progress made in non-EU countries and the relevance of the action for its objectives.

The main principles of a strategy covering the external aspects of policy on justice, freedom and security are already in place. Thus the EU has established a partnership on security with the United States, cooperation with the western Balkans, a strategic partnership with Russia and cooperation with Ukraine to secure stability and support the reform process and is contributing to the progress of good governance and the rule of law in the Mediterranean countries. The Commission lists a number of political priorities derived from the Hague Programme and its Action Plan, which provide the general basis for relations with non-EU countries. These include human rights, institution building and good governance, and enhancing non-EU countries' capacity to manage migration and combat terrorism and organised crime.

Implementing the strategy

The EU has a broad range of instruments at its disposal for tailoring its external cooperation to the situation of each country. These include:

  • bilateral agreements (e.g. on mutual legal assistance and extradition and on the issue of visas);
  • the enlargement process, which includes justice, freedom and security priorities;
  • EU neighbourhood policy (PEV) and the action plan;
  • the external aid programmes (CARDS, TACIS, MEDA);
  • regional cooperation such as the Asia-Europe meetings (ASEM);
  • individual arrangements such as those with the United States, with justice, freedom and security issues covered by the New Transatlantic Agenda, inter alia.

Furthermore, Community bodies such as Europol and Eurojust are establishing agreements and methods for working with non-EU countries. Development policy contributes in the long term to addressing justice, freedom and security concerns. Lastly, the European Communities and its Member States are key players in international organisations such as the Council of Europe which provide a basis for promoting common values and priorities.

To facilitate implementation of this strategy, the Commission sets priorities and defines the appropriate means of action to be taken within the scope of its powers and responsibilities, and regularly monitors their implementation. The Council reviews progress and priorities.

The effectiveness and coherence of the strategy must be improved through:

  • coordination between geographical Council working groups and groups dealing with JLS matters. Coreper (Committee of Permanent Representatives) has an important role to play in this respect;
  • coherence of the EU's external actions;
  • rapid reaction to sudden needs or emerging threats;
  • an enhanced role for the EU in international organisations;
  • regional cooperation on justice, freedom and security.

Commission staff working paper - Progress report on the implementation of the Strategy for the External Dimension of JHA: Global Freedom, Security and Justice [SEC(2006) 1498 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission takes stock of progress in the external dimension of freedom, security and justice. It notes that relations with non-member countries have evolved and that progress has been made on a variety of issues (migration, protection of fundamental rights, fight against terrorism and drug trafficking). It suggests that the priorities set by the 2005 strategy be maintained.

On 6 December 2006 the Council, acting on the basis of the report, adopted conclusions in which it set out future priorities for the external dimension of freedom, security and justice which take over the 2005 priorities as suggested by the Commission. It asked the Commission to report again by June 2008.

 
Last updated: 12.12.2006

See also

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