Sunday, 29 November 2009

EU Stockholm Programme background: Area of freedom, security and justice

The 2979th session of the Council of the European Union ─ Justice and Home Affairs configuration ─ starts in Brussels on Monday, 30 November 2009, under the Treaty of Nice, and continues on Tuesday, 1 December 2009, when the Lisbon Treaty has entered into force.

Although much of the Lisbon Treaty (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115) tweaks the institutions, without affecting citizens directly, justice and home affairs (JHA), the area of freedom, security and justice (FSJ), is a policy area where the reforms will have impact on individuals (through secondary legislation).

Detailed view

For a more detailed view of the treaty provisions in force from 1 December 2009, you can look at Part three, Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Articles 67 to 89 (pages 73 to 84 in the consolidated, readable version of the treaty).

The legislative history of each Article has been presented on this blog, with further references to relevant materials.

Essential background

For the reader, who wants an introduction or a quick recap of the Lisbon Treaty reforms, the Fondation Robert Schuman prepared ten fact sheets available in French and English (December 2007). Here the relevant one is Sheet 6: The Lisbon Treaty and the area of freedom, security and justice (2 pages).

The Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union has published a brochure for the general public (available in Swedish and English): A more secure and open Europe ─ The priorities of the Swedish Presidency for the Justice and Home Affairs Council (8 pages).

Barroso II Commission

On Friday, 27 November 2009, president-elect José Manuel Barroso allocated the portfolios for the commissioners proposed by the member states. Subject to the approval of the Commission as a body by the European Parliament, Cecilia Malmström will be responsible for home affairs in the Barroso II Commission and Viviane Reding will be in charge of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship during the next five years.

Most countries have separate ministers of the interior and ministers of justice. The responsibilities of the European Commission are both expanding and evolving. Politically, these issues are delicate; they concern individuals and striking the right balance between rights and repression is one of the most demanding tasks in modern government. The expected creation of two Commission portfolios has been favourably received.

JHA Council

Some progress has been made in opening up EU Council proceedings to the public. Generally, the Swedish presidency has been the best to date in presenting meetings and materials in a comprehensive manner to the public, as well as in its more open attitude with regard to publishing documents.

Public deliberations and debates are slowly making inroads into closed, smoke-free rooms. The press briefing for the JHA Council tells us that there is going to be a public deliberation (general debate) on the Stockholm Programme on Monday, under home affairs (page 2). On Tuesday, under justice, there is going to be a public debate (presumably on these parts of the draft programme).

Press conferences and public deliberations can be followed by video streaming on the Council’s audiovisual web page.

On the EU Council’s website, you can find background material for the 2979th JHA Council meeting 30 November to 1 December 2009: revised presidency briefing, agenda, background note, audiovisual note, public debates and deliberations 30 November, and public debates and deliberations 1 December.

Stockholm Programme

After the Tampere programme and the Hague programme, the European Union is about to adopt its third long term framework for its work in the area of freedom, security and justice: the Stockholm programme 2010-2014.

The JHA Council prepares the ground for the 10 to 11 December 2009 European Council, where the heads of state or government will adopt this framework of strategic value.

The Swedish presidency has published a second draft of the Stockholm Programme ─ An open and secure Europe serving and protecting the citizens (23 November 2009, document 16484/09; 73 pages).

Ralf Grahn

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