Tuesday 27 April 2010

UK & EU: Stockholm Programme home affairs

In an earlier Grahnlaw blog post House of Lords on EU Stockholm Programme (10 November 2009), ahead of the adoption of the Stockholm Programme, we highlighted the publication of:

UK House of Lords European Union Committee: The Stockholm Programme: home affairs (HL Paper 175; published 9 November 2009; 32 pages).

Since then, the Stockholm Programme has been adopted (document 17024/09 or 5731/10) and the proposed Action Programme COM(2010) 171 final for implementation has been published in three official EU languages. The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council has issued its first conclusions on the Action Programme (8920/10).

Background note

Despite the peculiar status of the United Kingdom and these later developments, the report by the European Union Committee is worth reading as a guide to and background note on the home affairs issues within the EU’s emerging area of freedom, security and justice (FSJ).

The Introduction (page 5 to 6) offers a brief outline of the area of freedom, security and justice: the Treaty of Amsterdam (since 1999), the Tampere Programme (2000─2004), the Hague Programme (2005─2009) and the process leading towards the Stockholm Programme (2010─2014), as well as the effects of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which opens up new possibilities.

The European Union Committee rightly criticised the lack of public consultation, involvement and publicity of the Interior Future Group, which laid the foundations for the Stockholm Programme (page 6).

The House of Lords Committee noted the heavy weight of immigration and asylum matters ─ more than half of the initiatives ─ in its outline of priority issues in the Commission’s Communication (page 7).

The Commission wanted to see progress regarding other home affairs matters: data protection; the fight against organised crime, including improvement of methods for seizing the proceeds of crime; strengthening civil protection and critical infrastructure protection; the fight against terrorism, including a strategy for dealing with CBRN attacks (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) (page 8).

Like the UK Government, the HL European Union Committee was supportive of a five year programme, and it wanted to see early action on the proposals from the Commission (page 8).

Comment: Heavy on security, light on rights

Both the Stockholm Programme ─ An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens (document 5731/10) ─ and the proposed plan for implementation ─ Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe's citizens - Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme; Brussels, 20.4.2010, COM(2010) 171 final ─ heavily stress citizens at headline level.

However, the HL Committee report indicates a heavy legacy of more effective repressive policy measures in the making, directed at illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers, as well as (outside) plotters of terrorist acts.

Ever more draconian security measures tend to spill over unto EU citizens and legal migrants, and comparatively little seems to have emanated from fresh thoughts about the direct involvement and the extension of the legal ─ not to say political ─ rights of EU citizens.

Given the roots, is this the JHA agenda we need for the next five years?

Ralf Grahn

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