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Policy evaluation 3: Justice and Home Affairs

The specification says you need to know the following about Justice and Home Affairs.

  • Justice and Home Affairs: how and why the influence of the EU has been extended into the area of Justice and Home Affairs; the controversy that this has caused within the EU and for member states; the extent to which this pillar is likely to be extended further. Issues include the Schengen Agreement, the impact of the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties, Europol, the changing role of the institutions, opt-outs, immigration & asylum and terrorism.

Definition: EU JHA policy aims to reduce cross border crime, it recognises the different legal systems across the borders and is working to have a more similar legal system. It is controversial because of the strong link between criminal law and national sovereignty. The opening of borders led to a lot of cross border crime so the JHA pillar was introduced at Maastricht to combat that.

1) Maastricht identified the areas of common interest and gave the European Council the head role in the discussions but the Amsterdam treaty 1997 gave all EU institutions full control over some areas of JHA policy, such as asylum and immigration. The EU maintains several Europe-wide databases including, for example, Eurodac, which stores the fingerprints of asylum-seekers to prevent abuses such as asylum shopping across national borders. This is where asylum seekers apply to a second EU country after being rejected from the first. These have helped ensure tighter border security for the EU.

2) However this year, illegal immigration into Britain has worsened after over 14,000 people from Serbia and Macedonia have requested asylum within the EU’s Schengen zone. Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and the Netherlands will use a meeting of European interior ministers today to demand that the EU stop the tide. There are still huge disagreements about immigration which prevent the real open borders, this is largely because of domestic dislike for immigration especially during a recession.

3) Cross border crime has been combatted by the European Arrest Warrant which was agreed in 2001, furthermore the creation of europol and eurojust in the 90s made cooperation between the judiciary across borders easier as well as cooperation between police forces. Although because national security and crime is such a personal topic tailored to each countries culture and history it has always seemed like a big loss of sovereignty. Cameron has said he would like to pull out of the European Arrest Warrant and 140 law and order measures despite the fact that the European arrest warrant was used to capture one of the 2005 bombers and is seen as integral for European harmony.

Further reading:

http://www.cer.org.uk/insights/eu-jha-co-operation-after-lisbon-reality-bites

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