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Cooperation within the EU

Strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning in the area of freedom, security and justice

In accordance with Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union one of the EU objectives is to offer EU citizens an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime. Consequently, the European Union shares the competences with the Member States in this respect, while undertaking, among others, actions aiming to provide high level of security. For this purpose adequate institutional structures have been established within the EU and a number of legal measures have been adopted to govern the cooperation among the Member States in the area of internal security.

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the issue of forming the strategic framework in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice has been settled in Article 68 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, where the European Council lays down the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning within the area of freedom, security and justice. Previously, the cooperation avenues in the area of internal security were laid down in the multi-annual strategic programmes (the Tampere Programme, the Hague Programme, the Stockholm Programme).

During its meeting on 26–27 June 2014, the European Council adopted Conclusions concerning the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning within the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ). The guidelines represent the result of more than one-year long Member State’s work supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The strategic guidelines give an impetus for further development of the AFSJ through establishment of rules and horizontal objectives that should lay behind the further EU integration in this area. In accordance with the expectations of the Member States the central idea of the strategic guidelines consists in focusing further actions on a consistent transposition and effective implementation of the existing legislation as well as consolidation of the current acquis. Furthermore, practical cooperation among the relevant authorities of the Member States is to be intensified with full use of the existing instruments.

The strategic guidelines pinpoint the importance of synergy among various EU policies and the enhanced relationships between their internal and external dimensions. In the context of further AFSJ development, particular significance is attached to the proper location of the basic rights.

The specific sectoral priorities in the area of internal affairs have been broken down into the following areas:

  • Asylum and Migration Policy
  • Management of the EU’s external borders
  • EU internal security

As for the asylum and migration policy, the strategic guidelines specify that an effective and well-managed policy should be ensured in this area based on the principles of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility as prescribed in the Treaty. The full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the use of the European Asylum Support Office potential are considered an absolute priority.

As for the next sectoral area, the strategic guidelines emphasise the need for the mobilisation of all the tools available at the EU level to support the Member States in the efficient management of the EU’s common external borders.    

In the security area, the overall objective consists in preventing and combating serious and organised crime, including human trafficking, as well as corruption. At the same time, an effective EU counter terrorism policy was emphasised that would integrate the internal and external aspects of the fight against terrorism. The strategic guidelines call for, among other things, reviewing and updating the internal security strategy of the EU and further development of a comprehensive approach towards cybersecurity and cybercrime.

A mid-term review of the strategic guidelines was carried out in 2017, which identified the relevance of three main horizontal areas:

  1. proper implementation of existing mechanisms for cooperation;
  2. guaranteeing consistency between various sector politics;
  3. ensuring cooperation between the various entities involved.