Building an area of Justice, Freedom and Security is a high priority for the European Union.
The Treaty of Lisbon has considerable influence on the existing rules governing freedom, and security and justice at EU level and will facilitate more comprehensive, legitimate, efficient, transparent and democratic EU action in this field.
Before the Lisbon Treaty entered in force, important matters in this field required decision by unanimity in the Council with only a limited role given to the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice.
The Treaty of Lisbon leads to increased democracy and transparency as a set of uniform legal acts are adopted with a stronger role for the European Parliament as co-legislator (co-decision procedure) and by the extension of the qualified majority principle in the Council.
EU action is facilitated by the abolition of the existing separate policy areas - also known as 'pillars' - that characterise today's institutional structure with regard to police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters.
However, legislative initiatives based on Member States' initiatives (at least a quarter of Member States) in the area of operational police cooperation, criminal justice and administrative cooperation remains possible. The European Commission gains its full role as guardian of the Treaties and will, together with the European Court of Justice, ensure that decisions are being applied correctly.
National Parliaments also take a more active role in the examination and delivery of opinions regarding justice, freedom and security issues.
The Treaty of Lisbon guarantees the freedoms and rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and gives its provisions binding legal force. The Court of Justice also, in this respect, gains an increased ability to ensure that the Charter is being applied correctly.
These advances facilitate the creation of more comprehensive, legitimate, efficient, transparent and democratic decision making for the common Area of Justice Freedom and Security by tackling the recurrent blockages of proposals due to the unanimity rule.
Nevertheless, three Member States have considered it necessary to negotiate or extend special arrangements on specific Justice, Freedom and Security areas with a view to maintaining specific national arrangements.