By the “Fundamental Rights European Experts Group” (FREE Group) (see below)
“Let’s be driven by our values and not by our fears”
1. Three years after Lisbon the objective of an EAFSJ is still far away…
Three years after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and of the European Charter of fundamental rights one can wonder if the European Union and its Member States are really committed to the objective of building the European Freedom Security and Justice Area. It is worth recalling that this objective dates back to 1997 when the Amsterdam Treaty was signed, but it has since then been substantially upgraded by the Lisbon Treaty.
After years of hard negotiations between the MS the EAFSJ has been tightly linked to a newly binding Charter of fundamental rights and some of the previous political, legal and democratic flaws have been solved. For three years the qualified majority voting has been the normal Council decision-making rule, the EP is a full co-legislator and the Commission and the European Court of Justice can fully play their role.
2. A deceiving outcome on quantitative and qualitative terms..
However notwithstanding these undeniable constitutional advances, the EU recent activity is quite deceptive both in quantitative as in qualitative terms. The EU and its MS seem still in a transitional and survival phase than in the long awaited building phase of true EAFSJ.
On quantitative aspects suffice it to note that since the beginning of the legislative term less than fifty legislative proposals have been submitted and only twenty have until now been adopted (1). If this trend continues one can wonder if the European Parliament and the Council will be able to adopt in the last 18 months of this legislature all the texts currently on the table not to speak of the proposals that the Commission has announced notably from the second half of 2013.
But much more concerning are the qualitative aspects of the institutional activity in a domain which is deemed to be now the core of the European public space.
To start with some positive aspects it is more than likely that the new Common European Asylum System foreseen by the art. 78 TFEU (and by the art.18 of the Charter) will be adopted before the end of this year (2). Progress has also been achieved with the adoption of the first measures dealing with the suspect’s rights in criminal proceedings (3) as well as in the judicial cooperation in civil matters (4) and on the establishment of new Agencies (5).
These decisions have often been taken after lengthy and painful negotiations and have been accompanied by the conclusion of international agreements as happened with the EU-US TFTP and PNR agreements. However a positive assessment on the latter is not obvious and the risks has been denounced that the final outcome could still not comply with the European Charter as well as of the European Convention of Human rights standards (6). The EP rejection of the ACTA agreement (7) has confirmed that the EU institutions often do not share the same vision of the balance to be struck between freedom and security.