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The Commission makes headway in its cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs within the Eastern Partnership

Commission Européenne - IP/11/1075   27/09/2011

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European Commission - Press release

The Commission makes headway in its cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs within the Eastern Partnership

Brussels, 27 September 2011 - The European Commission decided to step up cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). EU action in the external dimension of JHA has been growing steadily in the recent years. Cooperation on issues such as visa policy, asylum, border management, fighting organised crime and judiciary reform has helped improve security and stability both for citizens and for businesses in Eastern Partner countries and in the EU. The European Commission has published a Communication that seeks to build on this progress by further developing the dialogue and cooperation with the Eastern Partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine).

The Commission is committed to supporting the rule of law in cooperation with our Eastern Partners,” said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. “An effective judiciary is not only a fundamental right but it is an important factor in building confidence and supporting economic growth. I encourage all Eastern Partnership countries to participate in the established multilateral frameworks in order to enhance our cooperation in civil and criminal justice matters.

"We are sending an important signal that the EU is committed to active cooperation on well-managed and secure mobility with our Eastern Partners. Our engagement to enhance mobility and people-to-people contacts with the countries concerned is guided by the principles of human rights, respect of democracy and the rule of law. Continuous cooperation based on trust and respect within the Eastern Partnership is crucial if we are to increase mobility whilst at the same time addressing the challenges, such as trafficking in human beings, organised crime and corruption”", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

''The vision of the Eastern Partnership is that of a common space based on freedom, democracy, rule of law and justice. A space where political co-operation is as close, economic integration is as deep and people-to-people contacts are as intense as possible. I am pleased to announce a new set of important measures which will strengthen our co-operation in promoting human rights, fighting corruption and organised crime, and enhancing mobility. This forms part of a renewed engagement of the European Union towards its Eastern neighbours in deepening cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs,” said Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy.

Drawing from experience gained during the first years of cooperation within the Eastern Partnership, the Communication details concrete proposals that will further enhance and strengthen political and operational cooperation with our Eastern Partners. The Commission aims to move closer towards the establishment of a common Justice and Home Affairs space notably by streamlining and consolidating the existing framework for cooperation.

Background

Justice and Home Affairs have had a prominent and long-standing place on the agenda of the dialogue and cooperation between the EU and the Eastern Partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine), both at the bilateral and multilateral level. In particular, experience has shown that implementing measures to facilitate people-to-people contact, while promoting fundamental rights and rule of law, is an important prerequisite for maintaining peace and stability and has beneficial effects on the economic, cultural and social development of all the countries involved. This has been one of the guiding principles of the Eastern Partnership established at the Prague Summit in 2009 by the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

In the Stockholm Programme, the European Council invited the Commission to present a plan on how to take cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs forward within the Eastern Partnership. The need to actively cooperate in particular in the JHA area with our partners countries in the Eastern neighbourhood has been further highlighted in the Commission and High Representative’s Joint Communication of 25 May 2011 on "A new response to a changing Neighbourhood" and the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 June 2011, as well as in the context of the ongoing revision of the Global Approach to Migration. The Commission's Communication is a response to these calls. It reinforces the existing cooperation framework.

Reinforcing the structures for cooperation at bilateral, regional and multilateral level

  • Making the framework for regional and multilateral cooperation more efficient and granting a more prominent place to JHA issues on the agenda of the Eastern Partnership multilateral structures, both at the technical (e.g. the creation of a new Panel on Migration and Asylum, incorporating main activities of the Söderköping Process) and political level (JHA Ministerial Meeting)

  • Bringing greater coherence to bilateral relations by better articulating Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (and future Association Agreements) structure

  • Mobility Partnerships should continue to serve as the framework for the dialogue and operational cooperation on legal migration, irregular migration, and migration and development. Offering the possibility of signing a mobility partnership to all Eastern Partners, depending of course on the progress made and the migration situation in the country in question

  • Further strengthening the cooperation between the JHA agencies (FRONTEX, Europol, Eurojust, CEPOL, European Asylum Support Office and the Fundamental Rights Agency) and the Eastern Partners.

  • Strengthening cooperation in a number of areas, including in the fight against corruption, the rule of law, migration, mobility and border management, asylum and international protection, the fight against organised crime and terrorism, and data protection.

  • Introducing a light monitoring mechanism of the actions taken in order to improve cooperation between different operations implemented by the EU and its Member States

Main principles of cooperation with Eastern Partners

Cooperation with Eastern Partners should be based on four main principles:

  • Differentiation – advancement of the cooperation depends on the individual progress made by the partner country on its JHA reform agenda

  • Conditionality – further enhancement of the cooperation with Eastern Partners should be gradual and conditional on the progress made and successful cooperation in agreed areas

  • Policy coherence – JHA cooperation with Eastern Partners will be considered in the context of the overall EU external policy and other relevant policies.

  • Regional cooperation between the Eastern Partners is crucial for responding to cross border challenges in the JHA area and should be further encouraged.

  • Promoting greater involvement of civil society in creating and following the JHA cooperation agenda, especially with regard to people-to-people contacts.

For more information

Homepage DG Justice:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/index_en.htm

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)


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