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Chapter 24 - Justice and Home Affairs
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December 2004

Background

EU policies on Justice and Home Affairs aim to maintain and further develop the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice.

EU policies on Justice and Home Affairs touch on some of the most sensitive questions for public opinion. Negotiations on the Justice and Home Affairs acquis are not about transition periods. Rather, it is necessary to find ways to build confidence, among the EU member states, in the candidate countries’ capacity to implement the acquis. On issues such as border control, illegal migration, drug smuggling and money laundering, organised crime, police and judicial co-operation, data protection and the mutual recognition of court judgements, there is a need to ensure that candidate countries are equipped to meet adequate and acceptable standards of implementation. It is important that candidate countries’ administrative capacity is up to these standards by the date of accession. Furthermore, the establishment of an independent, reliable and efficient judiciary and police organisation are also of paramount importance.

Perhaps the most visible component of the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs policies is the Schengen acquis, which results in the lifting of internal border controls. However, accession to the EU will not immediately lead to the lifting of border controls between old and new member states; as with previous enlargements, this will be the subject of a separate Council decision, at some time after accession, and after a careful examination of the legal and practical readiness of the new member states. A key tool for each candidate country to demonstrate its preparedness in the Schengen area is its Schengen Action Plan. Such a plan needs to demonstrate full awareness of the ramifications of the Schengen acquis, and present a credible schedule for the introduction of its provisions, most of them ahead of accession.

Moreover, the Accession Treaty with the ten countries that joined the EU in May 2004 contain a safeguard clause as regards certain instruments in the field of judicial co-operation in civil and criminal matters (mutual recognition of court decisions): in case of inadequate transposition or implementation of any parts of the relevant acquis during the first three years after accession, the application of these provisions may be temporarily suspended in respect of these new member states. Such safeguard measures will run until the deficiencies are remedied.

State of play

The chapter was closed with the ten new member states in December 2002. It has also been definitely closed with Bulgaria and with Romania in December 2004. The commitments taken by both these countries will be closely monitored by the Commission, with substantial help from the Member State experts. This is and will be done through monitoring tables, peer review missions, TAIEX seminars and technical meetings on the new acquis. Any serious shortcomings by Romania or Bulgaria with regard to the fulfilment of their commitments in the Justice and Home affairs area can form the basis for an activation of the suspension clause that would postpone their envisaged accession dates by one year.

In addition, with regard to Romania, Justice and Home Affairs is one of two areas in which member states will decide by qualified majority and not unanimity whether to invoke the suspension clause if there is insuffient progress in a number of critical areas. For JHA these areas are: 1) Schengen Action Plan; 2) the EU’s future external borders; 3) reform of the judiciary; 4) fight against high-level corruption; 5) assessment of the current anti-corruption strategy; 6) co-operation between the national police and gendarmerie; and 7) the fight against organised crime.

Compliance with the acquis

The latest assessment of each candidate country’s compliance with the acquis under this chapter heading, can be found in the 2004 Regular Reports and in the Comprehensive Monitoring Reports, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/archives/key_documents/reports_2004_en.htm

Country by Country

Bulgaria

  • Chapter opened: June 2001
  • Status: closed in December 2004 (provisionally closed in October 2003)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Cyprus (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in December 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Czech Republic (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in December 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Estonia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in March 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Hungary (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in November 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Latvia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: June 2001
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in June 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Lithuania (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: June 2001
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in April 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Malta (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: June 2001
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in March 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Poland (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in July 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Romania

  • Chapter opened: April 2002
  • Status: closed in December 2004 (provisionally closed December 2004)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Slovakia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: June 2001
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in June 2002)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Slovenia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: May 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in December 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
 
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