- Home /
- News /
- 2004 /
- October /
- Statewatch News Online: EU - "The Hague Programme" on justice and home affairs
Statewatch News Online: EU - "The Hague Programme" on justice and home affairs
28 March 2012
EU - "The
Hague Programme" on justice and home affairs
- Pogramme to be adopted on 5 November leaving no time for parliaments
and civil society for react
The Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European
Union (the 25 member state governments) have produced a new draft
programme for justice and home affairs (now referred to as "freedom,
security and justice"). The programme follows on from the
Tampere programme adopted in 1999 and is to be adopted at a EU
Summit in Brussels on 4-5 November. The "Hague Programme"
is not yet a public document so there will be little or no time
for parliaments and civil society to react. It is intended that
the detail will be set out in an Action Plan to be produced by
the European Commission in 2005.
The Hague Programme:
strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union
"The Hague Programme":
strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union [doc no: 13302/2/04, 22.10.04,
annotated by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex] (pdf)
Statewatch's Timetable derived
from the Programme (pdf)
Points to note
The proposal to "extend"
the role of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia
"towards a Human Rights Agency in order to develop human
rights data collection and analysis" is an idea thought
up "in the margin" of the December 2003 Summit (p5).
Why is such an Agency needed? Surely it would be better to insist
that Human Rights Commissions are mandatory in each of the 25
states - currently there are only a handful (eg: Ireland, Greece,
Northern Ireland, Denmark and there is pressure for one in the
UK). Member states have adopted the European Convention on Human
Rights and a way of ensuring compliance is to have an independent
Human Rights Commission in every country. Moreover, there is
already the Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights
which has produced two excellent and detailed annual reports.
This new "Agency" will be costly, detract from the
importance of racism and xenophobia, and add little of value
if it is only to collect "human rights data".
The creation of a "Committee on Internal Security"
is highly problematic. It is intended that this would be in advance
of the proposed Standing Committee on operational cooperation
on internal security set out in Article 261 of the yet to be
ratified Constitution. What powers is this ad hoc Committed to
have? What powers of scrutiny will national and European parliaments
have? How can it include the Police Chiefs Task Force and SitCen
(the EU's military Situation Centre) on internal and external
intelligence and analysis - neither has a legal basis and no
lines of scrutiny are laid down.
Comments on the programme
'data collection and analysis' on human rights
(p5) is such an agency going to make an effective contribution
to human rights protection? It should be focussing on drafting
opinions and recommendations on the development and implementation
of EU policies, particularly in the JHA area.
QMV/co-decision for 'all Title IV measures subject to the
(p7). Title IV covers asylum and immigration.
This presumably means the issues mentioned in the declaration
to the Nice Treaty: illegal immigration and freedom to travel,
plus external borders (once agreement is reached between Spain
and the UK on Gibraltar, but this has not happened). This
leaves regulation of legal migration, internal border crossing,
asylum 'burden-sharing', and cross-border family law issues still
subject to unanimous voting and consultation of the EP.
The Nice Treaty (p7) also requires the highly restrictive rules
on the ECJ to be "adapted" by 1 May 2004 - there is
no reference to this.
The date for formal adoption of the asylum procedures directive
has slipped again
(p8). The idea of specific dates for review
and adoption of second phase Asylum System proposals is new.
So is the idea of joint processing within EU territory - but
what does that mean? Camps just inside EU borders? The idea of
joint processing outside has been around the last couple of years
- it is the most objectionable aspect and there are huge doubts
about whether it could be compliant with international standards.
It should be noted that the idea is not confined to people intercepted
in transit countries or even on the high seas, so could apply
to people who are already present on EU territory as well.
The legal migration provisions
(pp9-10) fail to mention
some of the key principles of Tampere, such as fair treatment
of third-country nationals comparable to that of nationals, and
equal treatment of long-term residents with nationals as far
as possible. The request for a 'policy' on admission by end 2005
is not a request for a legislative proposal (the Commission made
on back in 2001 which the Council has ignored); Tampere had asked
for rapid proposals from the Commission, which the Council would
Calling upon non-EU states to ratify the Geneva Convention is
new (p11), and useful, but what will be the EU do if they do
not? In light of current relations with Libya, it looks as if
the EU is calling for this so as to make it easier for Member
States to expel asylum-seekers to transit states.
The Commission's recent external solutions paper is endorsed
here (p12), see: Statewatch
analysis: EU divided on "safe countries of origin"
A link is made between expulsion policy and public order/security
(p13). The idea of a special representative for
readmission policy is new.
The first time an EU summit meeting has set a date for abolition
of border checks with the 10 new member states (p14). The idea
of a rapid reaction force
is also taken from a Presidency
Note. Are 'illegal immigrants' (who will often be asylum-seekers
or refugees) going to be 'rescued' at sea only to be returned
to the third countries the EU will be collaborating with?
'minimum standards for national identity cards'
new - the EU has no power to do this at present according
to Art. 18(3) EC (Nice)
The date for a common application centres proposal and the idea
of reviewing the CCI is new (p16). The references to visa reciprocity
and to visa facilitation as a trade-off for readmission are new.
Establishing a "EU crisis management" centre to
cover civil protection, public order and security is new
An internal security committee is to be established in
advance of the Constitution (Article 261 of the Constitution,
p23). This is to be comprised of the chairpersons of SCIFA (Strategic
Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum), the Article
36 Committee (CATS), and representatives of the Commission, Europol,
Eurojust, Police Chiefs Task Force and SitCen (the military Situation
Centre). The Police Chiefs Task Force and SitCen (the military
Situation Centre) have no legal status and their work is not
subject to parliamentary scrutiny - nor for that matter will
this new internal security Committee.
The point about a particular solution for JHA cases and the ECJ
is new (p24). There is no move as required by the Treaty to adapt
now the ECJ provisions applying to immigration and asylum (see
point on p.7)
The deadlines for the EEW and disqualification/criminal records
proposals are new (p26). There is no deadline for the criminal
suspects' rights' proposal but at least they appear to endorse
the principle of adopting it.
The para on substantive criminal law is content-free (p26)
Accession to the Hague Conference is a new point as far as EU
summit conclusions are concerned (p29)
| Join Statewatch news e-mail list | Download a free sample
issue of Statewatch bulletin
Statewatch does not have a corporate
view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are
those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content
of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute