EU: New Council "strategic guidelines" frame the next five years of EU justice and home affairs policy


The Council of the EU is moving towards the adoption of its next five-year set of strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs policies.

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Priorities listed in a draft document include enhancing the powers of justice and home affairs agencies, such as eu-Lisa and Europol; preventing future migration "crisis situations"; and cooperating more closely with non-EU states to control migration. The intention is for the European Council meeting to adopt the guidelines in March.

NOTE from: Presidency to: Permanent Representatives Committee: Strategic guidelines in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (5636/20, LIMITE, 31 January 2020, pdf):

"Delegations will find in annex the draft strategic guidelines in the field of Justice and Home Affairs ahead of the COREPER meeting on 5 February 2020.

In June 2019, the European Council adopted the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 to guide the European Union's work in the next five years.

The Council is to turn the new priorities into reality and to integrate the priorities of the new Strategic Agenda into its work. The first step in the implementation of the strategic agenda in the field of Justice and Home Affairs was a reflection process initiated by the Romanian Presidency and continued during the Finnish Presidency, which was wrapped up in December 2019. The Croatian Presidency inherited the results of this reflection process and prepared the ground for strategic guidelines under Article 68 TFEU to take forward the strategic agenda and facilitate its implementation.

The following strategic guidelines are submitted for endorsement to the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) on 12-13 March 2020 in view of the European Council meeting on 26-27 March 2020."

On the interoperability of databses, the document proposes moving beyond the interconnection of just policing and migration systems (emphasis added in all quotes):

"The effective implementation of interoperability solutions, opening the way for the integration of decentralised systems, customs databases and financial investigation tools, will also strengthen mutual trust – as will control over secondary movements of migrants and asylum seekers."

On migration:

"Expanding efforts towards third countries means bringing interaction between Member States and EU structures to a whole new level. To engage properly with third countries in our complex institutional set-up, we need to identify much more clearly who is in charge of what on the basis of which information and with what leverage. Securing returns of migrants who have no claim to remain on European soil is a difficult task, for which support from EU structures and institutions could make a real difference if conducted in a coordinated way, with appropriate consideration for the situation of countries of origin and with proper alignment of several policy areas, including visas, legal migration possibilities, development and trade."


"Robust intelligence coming from all actors, supported by adequate technology, can provide accurate situational pictures, with risk and threat assessments leading to preventive action to avert crisis situations before they arrive at the EU's external borders or to handle such situations should they nevertheless occur."

And on security in general:

"A truly integrated approach to security means covering the entire security chain, with enhanced operational and interagency cooperation between police, border guards, customs, judiciary, immigration and asylum authorities. Appropriate action at EU level, through the integration of tools and operational frameworks, would help overcome deep-rooted administrative divisions at national level, encouraging cooperation and synergies. EU JHA agencies have an important role to play in an enhanced interagency approach and priority should be given to pooling and sharing equipment, specialised technical solutions, resources and expertise in areas where Member States lack sufficient capacities."

With regard to expanding EU agencies' powers and resources:

"In this context of digitalisation, it is not clear that the mandates and resources of relevant JHA agencies adequately cover current and future needs. Adequate funding has to be secured for all JHA agencies and offices so that sound financial management can be combined with correct allocation of resources in view of the tasks they have to perform. This evaluation will have to be made, also as regards the mandate of Europol and the possible extension of the mandate of eu-LISA to customs and judicial systems."

NOTE from: Presidency to: Permanent Representatives Committee: Strategic guidelines in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (5636/20, LIMITE, 31 January 2020, pdf):

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