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Document 52000DC0167

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - Scoreboard to review progress on the creation of an area of "Freedom, security and justice" in the European Union

/* COM/2000/0167 final */

52000DC0167

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - Scoreboard to review progress on the creation of an area of "Freedom, security and justice" in the European Union /* COM/2000/0167 final */


COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SCOREBOARD TO REVIEW PROGRESS ON THE CREATION OF AN AREA OF "FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE" IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

1. Introduction

1.1. Aims of the Scoreboard

1.2. How to read the Scoreboard

1.3. Scope of the Scoreboard

1.4. Keeping the Scoreboard up-to-date

2. A Common EU Asylum and Migration Policy

2.1. Partnership with countries of origin

2.2. A Common European Asylum System

2.3. Fair treatment of third country nationals

2.4. Management of migration flows

3. A Genuine European Area of Justice

3.1. Better access to justice in Europe

3.2. Mutual recognition of judicial decisions

3.3. Greater convergence in civil law

4. Unionwide Fight against Crime

4.1. Preventing Crime at the level of the Union

4.2. Stepping up cooperation in the fight against crime

4.3. Fight against certain forms of crime

4.4. Special action against money laundering

5. Issues related to internal and external borders and visa policy, Implementation of Art. 62 TEC and converting the Schengen Acquis

6. Citizenship of the Union

7. Cooperation Against Drugs

8. Stronger External Action

1. Introduction

The European Council meeting in Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999 invited the Commission to make a proposal for an "appropriate Scoreboard mechanism" whose purpose would be to "keep under constant review progress made towards implementing the necessary measures and meeting the deadlines" set by the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Vienna Action Plan and the conclusions of Tampere for the creation of an "area of freedom, security and justice".

In the meantime, Commissioner Vitorino has conducted a tour of capitals, and has held some preliminary discussions with the European Parliament as well as with representatives of other institutions. Furthermore, the fruitful discussion which took place at the informal meeting of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs in Lisbon on 3 March also contributed positively to the increasingly growing consensus on the form and purpose of the Scoreboard.

1.1. Aims of the Scoreboard

In the Commission's view, such a "Scoreboard" should be more than a purely mechanical instrument to facilitate the internal monitoring by the EU institutions of their progress in adopting the legislative and other instruments needed to establish the area of Freedom, Security and Justice. It should rather be, first and foremost, an instrument for helping to achieve an objective - the creation and development of the European Union as an area of freedom, security and justice - which itself belongs not to the institutions but to the citizens of the Union. But it cannot be achieved except as an exercise in partnership and cooperation involving not only all the institutions of the Union but also the Member States individually.

The Scoreboard should thus have three separate but related purposes:

-to ensure the significant degree of transparency that a project of such direct interest to citizens demands;

-to keep up the momentum generated by the Tampere European Council;

-to exercise pressure on any identified areas of delay so that those responsible are reminded of the need to rediscover the political commitment so clearly and repeatedly expressed by the European Council in this matter.

The components of the area of Freedom, Security and Justice and the timetable for achieving it, have already been examined at length and are set out in Treaty form by Amsterdam; in clear political guidelines by Tampere; and in considerable detail by the Vienna Action Plan. The Commission does not, of course, rule out that the transparent dialogue, to which it hopes a living document such as this Scoreboard will give rise in particular with the European Parliament, could well lead to new ideas and targets. However, our starting point has to be the elements already endorsed by the European Council. And the guiding principle in this area, as in others, must be that of subsidiarity in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen.

If it is to serve these purposes and to provide a reliable road map in such a complex area involving a large number of individual measures to be adopted, the Scoreboard must visualise both the road still ahead and the distance already covered, not hesitating to display both the areas where progress is on track but also where it is lagging behind schedule. It must be sufficiently detailed and structured that precise targets to be reached by the end of the each calendar year are clearly identified and visible.

This approach builds on the method successfully adopted in earlier ventures of the Union, in particular the establishment of the Single Market.

It is important to recall that, in almost all areas of Justice and Home Affairs, the Commission and Member States, for a transitional period of five years following the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, share the right of initiative for legislation. This further underlines the partnership-based nature of the responsibilities for taking forward this project. When the Scoreboard indicates that responsibility for taking the initiative lies with the Commission rather than with a Member State, this mainly reflects the language of Tampere, which specifically requested certain actions from the Commission. There are also a limited number of items where action is attributed to the Commission either because it already appears in the Commission's published work programme or because the Treaty Article on which it is based provides for exclusive right of the Commission (e.g. Article 18 for action in the field of European citizenship). In other cases, the Scoreboard leaves open the possibility that the initiative could come as well from the Commission as from any Member State. In some areas, certain Member States have already indicated their intention to take the first initiative and this is duly recorded in the Scoreboard.

1.2. How to read the Scoreboard

The Scoreboard is intended to be both accessible and comprehensible to non-specialist readers. It will be a living document, regularly updated, and could, if the European Parliament so wishes, become a major component of its annual debate on progress in this area. This should also open to public scrutiny the steps being taken to achieve one of the Union's main political objectives in areas which have in the past been considered rather impenetrable to non-specialist observers. This is especially important since public support for the project is essential to its success.

The proposed Scoreboard is structured in tabular form. It follows as close as possible the chapter headings used in Tampere and is divided into the following columns:

*The individual objectives as listed in the Tampere Conclusions, in the Vienna Action Plan and in the Treaty itself

*The form of follow-up action needed, distinguishing where appropriate between legislative and non-legislative action including if possible the nature of the instrument required

*Where responsibility lies for taking things forward

*The deadlines for adoption, where these are already indicated in the basic texts or have been added or subsequently adjusted to take account of later developments. Where the basic texts are silent on deadlines, this first version of the Scoreboard is also silent with a view to filling in dates in the light of discussion

*The state of play (this column will serve to identify what has been achieved as well as where progress is lagging)

1.3. Scope of the Scoreboard

The Scoreboard has a somewhat wider coverage than the areas contained in Title IV of the Treaty establishing the European Community and in Title VI of the Treaty on European Union alone. It includes, for example, a number of measures needed in relation to the concept of European citizenship, as well as some subjects not specifically mentioned in the Amsterdam Treaty, the Vienna Action Plan or the Tampere conclusions but raised by certain Member States during Commissioner Vitorino's tour of capitals in the first weeks of the year 2000.

On the other hand, the Scoreboard at this stage does not attempt any comprehensive coverage of the potentially vast area of legislative activity which flows from the incorporation of Schengen into the Treaty. The Commission is still reflecting on the appropriate schedule for such action, inclining to the view that the priority with which there is a need to convert Schengen provisions into "Amsterdam" instruments will depend more on developments than on any absolute requirement to convert them for the sake of doing so. Thus it has included a reference to the need to "communautarise" Article 2.2 of the Schengen Convention, since that article has already been invoked on a number of occasions since the entry into force of the Treaty. A similar approach has been adopted with regard to certain "third pillar" instruments which will have to be converted in due course.

Furthermore, certain issues of a horizontal nature and relevant to the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union are not dealt with directly by this Scoreboard. In some cases, these questions are handled in other bodies - as in the case of the Convention entrusted with drawing up a draft Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union, or the Intergovernmental Conference with regard to the role of the European Court of Justice or the protection of the financial interests of the Community. In others, they cut across different actions proposed in the Scoreboard, for example in the case of the external actions of Justice and Home Affairs, where, in accordance with the conclusions of the European Council of Tampere, the first step is for specific recommendations to be drawn up by the Council and the Commission concerning priorities, policy objectives and measures, including the question of working structure, before the Feira European Council in June 2000.

Similarly, it is too early for detailed actions to be listed in the field of crime prevention since this will be the subject of a major conference organised by the Portuguese Presidency in May 2000.

1.4. Keeping the Scoreboard up-to-date

The Commission proposes drawing an updated version of the Scoreboard to the attention of the European Parliament and the Council once per Presidency. This will provide the occasion to review progress made; to indicate where and when it may be slipping; and, if necessary, to adjust priorities but without losing sight of the overall objective and timescale set out in the Treaty and in the subsequent European Council conclusions. The first such review will also provide the opportunity to build up further the picture in terms of how the Member States and the Commission share the responsibilities regarding the right of initiative in any areas which remain uncovered.

2. A Common EU Asylum and Migration Policy

The separate but closely related issues of asylum and migration call for the development of a commun EU policy to include the following elements:

2.1. Partnership with countries of origin

A comprehensive approach to migration will be developed, addressing political, human rights and development issues in countries and regions of origin and transit based on a partnership with those countries and regions with a view to promoting co-development.

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2.2. A Common European Asylum System

The aim is to ensure a full and inclusive application of the Geneva Convention, ensuring that nobody is sent back to persecution, i.e. maintaining the principle of non-refoulement.

In the long term, a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for granting asylum valid throughout the Union must be established.

Secondary movements by asylum seekers between Member States should be limited.

A temporary protection regime for displaced persons on the basis of solidarity among Member States will be established.

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2.3. Fair treatment of third country nationals

The conditions for admission and residence of third country nationals will be approximated, on the basis of a shared assessment of the economic and demographic developments within the Union, as well as the situation in the countries of origin.

An integration policy should aim at granting third country nationals who reside legally on the territory of Member States (and in particular long-term residents), rights and obligations comparable to those of European Union citizens, as well as enhancing non-discrimination and the fight against racism and xenophobia.

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2.4. Management of migration flows

Management of migration flows should be improved every stage through close cooperation with countries of origin and transit.

The fight against illegal immigration will be enhanced by combating the criminal networks involved while securing the rights of victims.

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3. A Genuine European Area of Justice

The ambition is to give citizens a common sense of justice throughout the Union. Justice must be seen as facilitating the day-to-day life of people and bringing to justice those who threaten the freedom and security of individuals and society. This includes both a better access to justice and a full judicial cooperation among Member States.

3.1. Better access to justice in Europe

A genuine area of justice must ensure that people and businesses can approach courts and authorities in any Member State as easily as in their own and not be prevented or discouraged from exercising their rights by the complexity of the legal and administrative systems in the Member States.

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3.2. Mutual recognition of judicial decisions

A genuine area of justice must provide legal certainty to people and to economic operators. To that end, judgements and decisions should be respected and enforced throughout the Union.

Enhanced mutual recognition of judicial decisions and judgements and the necessary approximation of legislation would facilitate co-operation between authorites and the judicial protection of individual rights. In order to ensure that the priniciple of mutual recognition should become the cornerstone of the judicial co-operation in both civil and criminal matters within the European Union.

As regards to civil matters;

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As regards to criminal matters;

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3.3. Greater convergence in civil law

In order to smooth judicial cooperation and to enhance access to law, better compatibility and more convergence between the legal systems must be achieved.

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4. Unionwide Fight against Crime

A balanced development of unionwide measures against all forms of crime, including serious organised and transnational crime, should be achieved while protecting the freedom and legal rights of individuals and economic operators.

4.1. Preventing Crime at the level of the Union

Any efficient policy in the fight against all types of crime, organised or otherwise, must include also preventive measures of a multidisciplinary nature.

Integration of crime prevention aspects in actions and programmes against crime at the Union and Member States level.

Cooperation between national prevention organisations should be encouraged whilst identifying certain areas of priority.

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4.2. Stepping up cooperation in the fight against crime

In a genuine area of justice criminals must find no ways of exploiting differences in the judicial systems of Members States

To give citizens a high level of protection implies greater cooperation between the authorities responsible for applying the law. To this end, maximum benefit should be derived from cooperation between Member States authorities when investigating cross-border cases.

The Treaty of Amsterdam by providing further competences to Europol recognised the essential and central role in facilitating European Cooperation in preventing and combating organised crime

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4.3. Fight against certain forms of crime

With regard to national criminal law, efforts to agree on common definitions, incriminations and sanctions should be focused in the first instance on a limited number of sectors of particular relevance. Agreements on common definitions, incriminations and sanctions regarding serious organised and transnational crime need to be established in order to protect the freedom and legal rights of individual and economic operators.

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4.4. Special action against money laundering

Money laundering is at the very heart of organised crime. For that reason measures must be taken in order to root it out wherever it occurs to ensure that concrete steps are taken to trace, freeze, seize and confiscate the proceeds of crime.

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5. Issues related to internal and external borders and visa policy, Implementation of Art. 62 TEC and converting the Schengen Acquis

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6. Citizenship of the Union

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7. Cooperation Against Drugs

A s a collective and individual threat, the drugs problem needs to be addressed in a global, multidisciplinary and integrated manner The EU drugs strategy for the years 2000-2004 will also be evaluated at mid-term and at completion, with the help of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol.

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8. Stronger External Action

The European Union underlines that all competences and instrument at the disposal of the Union, and in particular, in external relations must be used in an integrated and consistent way to build the area of freedom, security and justice. Justice and Home Affairs concerns must be integrated in the definition and implementation of other Union policies and activities.

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