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Brussels, 28 June 2006

"Strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union: report on the implementation of The Hague Programme for 2005" (the so-called "the Hague scoreboard "plus")

1) Rationale for the Communication

Under The Hague Programme strengthening Freedom, Security and Justice in the European Union and its accompanying Action Plan, the Commission was invited to present an annual report on their implementation (“scoreboard”).

Unlike the previous Tampere scoreboards, the Hague scoreboard is not only conceived as a single follow-up of the institutional decision-making process at European Union level. Within the new framework designed under The Hague Programme, focussing on strengthening the area of Justice, Freedom and Security, The Hague scoreboard also assesses how measures adopted at EU level are put in place by Member States and examines whether they are implemented timeously and in their entirety. This aspect is the "plus" of The Hague Scoreboard.

The Hague Scoreboard assesses the outcome of both (1) the significant political progress achieved in 2005 and (2) the implementation of JLS measures at national level. It also draws conclusions of this double assessment (3).

This structure, combined with figures by policy and by Member State, gives visibility to the monitoring of implementation and provides for a comprehensive overview of the execution of the Hague Programme and Action Plan.

2) Content of the Communication

Main outcomes are the following:

(1) Regarding the inter-institutional adoption process, the global level of achievement for 2005 can be considered satisfactory: most of actions due for 2005 in The Hague Action plan were achieved or on the way to be achieved .

Nevertheless, a fine tuning by policy reveals great differences.

Although Commission's action has been very successful in "communautarised" JLS policies, such as cooperation in civil justice , it remains that the unanimity vote, when it applied, delayed the adoption of priority measures under The Hague Programme. It is the case of the first phase of the European asylum regime.

In contrast, the inter-institutional dialogue within the framework of the co-decision procedure proved to be particularly profitable and made it possible to reach an agreement in a few months time on important texts such as the data retention Directive, the border code and the Regulation on "small cross-border traffic".

The adoption process in police and criminal justice matters (the so-called "third pillar") remains particularly problematic. Unanimity vote slowed down adoption of measures of utmost importance such as the European evidence warrant, and the Framework Decision on "procedural rights". An agreement was finally met a few weeks ago on the first one, and the second one is still under difficult negotiations within the Council, although their adoption was foreseen "before end of 2005" in The Hague Programme. Council's uncertainties on the choice of the legal basis also contributed to slow down the adoption process in a number of cases, despite the "environmental crime" Court ruling of 13 September 2005 in case C-176/03.

(2) As to the very first assessment of JLS policies' implementation at national level, it appears to be largely insufficient at this stage.

In view of the relative youth of a number of JLS policies, the evaluation exercise is in addition often premature. This is obvious for important policies such as asylum, legal immigration, mutual recognition both in civil and criminal justice, but also in drugs where an individual follow-up in connection with the OEDT exists.

But it is especially the deficiencies, both from a quantitative and a qualitative perspective, of the general level of transposition in police and criminal justice which are striking. For example, the EU determination to fight against terrorism does not appear to be correctly translated/relayed at national level where important delays in transposing essential Framework Decision on Terrorism remain in a number of Member States.

It thus results from this Communication that improvements have to be made to the existing framework, in particular regarding the decision-making process in areas of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

This is the purpose of the parallel Communication "Implementation of The Hague Programme: a way forward".

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