EC lists improved immigration policy among priorities
The Sofia Echo
by Clive Leviev-Sawyer
Wed, Jun 10 2009 14:52 CET
The European Commission has set out 10 “specific innovations” in its plans for justice and home affairs in the next few years.
“Ordinary citizens should be at the heart of the future Stockholm Programme, to be debated by the European Parliament and adopted by the European Council before the end of the year, which will provide a framework for EU action on the questions of citizenship, justice, security, asylum and immigration for the next five years,” the EC said on June 10 2009.
The EC adopted an analysis of its work in the area of justice and home affairs in recent years and setting out future priorities.
The Stockholm Programme is so named because Sweden will take over the rotating presidency of the EU on July 1 2009, and the new programme will succeed the EUs earlier Tampere and Hague programmes on justice and home affairs.
The future Stockholm Programme is to be debated by the European Parliament and adopted by the European Council before the end of the year, and will provide a framework for EU action on the questions of citizenship, justice, security, asylum and immigration for the next five years, the EC said.
The EC said that examples of the measures “specific innovations” proposed included the introduction of a comprehensive scheme to ensure better data protection in the EU.
Another was the complete abolition of intermediate procedures for enforcing court decisions issued in another member state.
The EC said that it intended setting up an exchange programme for police officers and improving the scheme that already exists for the judiciary and judicial staff (Erasmus programme for the police and the judiciary).
It planned to strengthen procedural guarantees in criminal cases.
A further priority was to develop a domestic security strategy for the EU.
Another measure would be to create an “information system architecture” that will help to improve the exchange of information among European police forces.
The EC said that it planned to improve the evaluation of European judicial policies and support the efforts of member states to improve the quality of their judicial systems.
It would “ensure a flexible immigration policy that is in line with the needs of the job market while at the same time support the integration of immigrants and tackle illegal immigration” and would enhance solidarity between member states for hosting refugees and asylum-seekers.
The other priority was to increase research efforts in security technologies.
“In future, EU action must aim above all at delivering the best possible service to the citizen in an area of freedom, security and justice more tangible for the citizens,” EC President Jose Barroso said.
“We want to promote citizens' rights, make their daily lives easier and provide protection, and this calls for effective and responsible European action in these areas. In this context, I consider immigration policy particularly important. This is the vision the Commission is presenting to the Council and Parliament for debate, with a view to the adoption of the new Stockholm Programme by the European Council in December 2009”.
EC Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner in charge of the Justice, Freedom and Security portfolio, said: “Freedom, security and justice are core values which constitute key components of the European model of society. We have made substantial progress in creating an area of freedom, security and justice in recent years. The priority now must be to put the citizen at the heart of this project in order to demonstrate the added value of the European Union in areas that have such a bearing on people's daily lives.”
It is 10 years since the European Union set itself the target of creating an area of freedom, justice and security. With the Tampere and Hague programmes giving the necessary political impetus, significant progress has been made, the EC said.
“The priorities identified by the Commission take account of recent developments in the area of freedom, security and justice. The progress achieved and the lessons learnt over the past five years are analysed in detail in the communication evaluating the Hague programme. The experience we have gained should help us to meet the major challenges facing the European Union.”
Examples are challenges faced were that people want to live in a EU that is prosperous and peaceful, where their rights are respected and their security protected.
“They want to be able to travel freely, and to move temporarily or permanently to another European country in order to study, to work, to found a family, to set up a business or to retire.
“They want easy access to justice, the possibility of enforcing judicial decisions issued by other member states and protection from a variety of threats (organised crime, terrorism). This can only be achieved by better, more efficient cooperation between the police forces and judicial systems of the member states,” the EC said.
The EU must also mobilise to help people and businesses cope better with the short-term problems of the economic crisis and, in the longer term, to meet the challenges of a globalised society and an ageing European population, the EC said.
“It must establish a flexible migration policy enabling it to respond to its employment needs and make use of the opportunities provided by foreign labour. It must also uphold its humanitarian tradition by offering its protection generously to those who need it.”