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Texts adopted
Wednesday, 16 May 2001 - Strasbourg Final edition
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
B5-0339/2001

European Parliament resolution on progress in establishing an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) in the year 2000

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to Article 39 of the EU Treaty,

-  having regard to the legal acts adopted in 2000 and the measures now being prepared,

-  having regard to the Commission's 'scoreboard' relating to progress in implementing the Tampere priorities,

-  whereas the European Council at the end of 2001, two years after the Tampere Summit, is to carry out a mid-term review of the implementation of the Tampere conclusions and at the same time assess the impact of the forthcoming EU enlargement on the AFSJ,

-  mindful of the participation of national parliaments and civil society, particularly in the hearing of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs of 21 March 2001,

-  having regard to the statements made by the Council Presidency and the Commission at Parliament's plenary sitting of 4 April 2001,

1.  Welcomes, as a matter of principle, the following developments in the year 2000:

   (a)
the proclamation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which in implementing the values on which the Union is based (Article 6 of the EU Treaty) explicitly sanctions the fundamental rights to which every human being is entitled and those recognised as belonging to EU citizens, thereby making it possible to establish a genuine AFSJ (Article 2 of the EU Treaty);
   (b)
the establishment of an 'alarm mechanism', provided for in the Treaty of Nice, in order to preserve the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law (Article 6(1) of the EU Treaty), which improves the conditions for creating and safeguarding an AFSJ;
   (c)
the reform of the European Court of Justice, envisaged in the Treaty of Nice, which significantly improves its working methods, thereby contributing to a more efficient implementation of the AFSJ;
   (d)
the forthcoming creation of Eurojust, which will link the Member States in the area of judicial cooperation;
   (e)
the further development of Europol in the area of police cooperation and the establishment of a European police academy, which is now to be followed by the creation of a European border security unit - as called for by Parliament as long ago as 1998;
   (f)
the - albeit unfortunately extremely limited - transition to the co-decision procedure and a qualified majority in the Council in relation to provisions for combating discrimination (Article 13 of the EC Treaty), the right of travel and residence for Union citizens (Article 18 of the EC Treaty) and certain measures in the area of visa, asylum and immigration policy and judicial cooperation in civil matters (Title IV of the EC Treaty);
   (g)
the new approach taken by the Council and Commission regarding the possibility of committing the Member States to the creation of sanctions in criminal law in order to ensure compliance with Union policies (in the area of the environment, common market, euro forgery, illegal immigration, the forging of documents), which makes it increasingly necessary that judicial cooperation in criminal matters should also become a Community issue;
   (h)
the very efficient and transparent Commission policy in establishing the AFSJ brought about by the introduction of the 'scoreboard' and Commissioner Vitorino's systematic cooperation with the European Parliament;
   (i)
the legislative acts that have been adopted in the year 2000, particularly those that have been considered successful:
   -
Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(1) , the application of which represents an important weapon in the fight against racism and xenophobia, as well as backing for the integration of immigrants and minorities in the Union;
   -
the adoption in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters(2) , Council Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings(3) , Council Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 of 29 May 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and in matters of parental responsibility for children of both spouses(4) , Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 of 29 May 2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil and commercial matters(5) , as well as the Council Act of 29 May 2000 establishing in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union(6) ,
   -
Commission initiatives such as the proposals for directives on family reunification and on temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons;
   -
the proposals already submitted by the Commission in the field of asylum, in particular temporary protection and minimum standards for asylum-seekers;

2.  Considers itself obliged, despite these positive developments, to note:

   (a)
that the Member States and the Council are not succeeding in implementing a common policy in the areas of asylum and immigration - despite the abolition of internal border controls, the establishment of a common economic area and the need to create a coordinated foreign policy with a view to countries of origin and transit - and that they have not developed any strategic approach to this central area, merely submitting uncoordinated individual measures;
   (b)
that the proposal for a directive on family reunification, an important instrument in the process of integrating immigrants and their families, has been awaiting a Council decision for a year and the third Commission initiative on the temporary protection of refugees may fail because of opposition from certain Member States;
   (c)
that in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters - despite a certain degree of progress - the convention on judicial cooperation, adopted in 2000, has not yet been ratified by any of the Member States, and the programme on mutual recognition was also only recently adopted;
   (d)
that in the area of the fight against racism and xenophobia there is still an inability for Member States to enforce national law when their nationals carry out their illegal activities, in whole or in part, at a base in another Member State, e.g. German neo-Nazis producing 'Holocaust denial' material from a base in Denmark for distribution in Germany;
   (e)
that the establishment of Eurojust was delayed and the lack of infrastructure, human resources and a sufficient financial basis leaves room for doubt as to the willingness of national administrative bodies to cooperate, and further hinders the integration of the applicant countries;
   (f)
that, so far, strategies for combating organised crime exist only on paper, even though progress has been made in the areas of money laundering, child pornography and trafficking in human beings;
   (g)
that the European Parliament was not informed about any results of the accession negotiations with the candidate countries, either by the Commission or by the Council, and that Parliament therefore is unable to assess whether any progress has been achieved in negotiations;
   (h)
that the Council's cooperation with the European Parliament in bringing about the AFSJ was inadequate, particularly in terms of the insufficient and late forwarding of information to the European Parliament and the lack of willingness to take proper account of Parliament's decisions;
   (i)
that, despite cautiously positive announcements by the Swedish Council Presidency, there is still a lack of willingness on the part of the Council to transfer parliamentary scrutiny of Europol to the European Parliament;
   (j)
that, finally, there will be delays, contradictions and incongruities until the establishment of the AFSJ becomes a Community issue, thereby facilitating consistency of initiatives, clarification of competences and uniformity of procedures;

3.  Calls on the Council and Commission therefore:

   (a)
to submit comprehensive strategies and precise timetables for the further development of individual central policies - such as policy in the areas of asylum and immigration - as soon as possible, so that the Laeken European Council can not only continue with the implementation of the Tampere conclusions but will also be able to submit a convincing programme for the development of an AFSJ, which should include an assessment of the impact of the forthcoming EU enlargement on the AFSJ;
   (b)
to take into account, in all future actions and proposals, the values contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
   (c)
to rationalise working methods and to speed up the adoption of decisions which are often blocked in the Council, such as the directive on family reunification, and to give the Commission sufficient resources to achieve, within the envisaged deadlines, the objectives of the "scoreboard";
   (d)
to agree at last on a programme for sharing the burden among the Member States with regard both to refugees fleeing civil wars and asylum-seekers;
   (e)
to bring forward legislative proposals to enable the perpetrators of fascist and other extremist crimes living in the EU to be prosecuted no matter where they choose to reside;
   (f)
to prepare the entry into force of the Treaty of Nice by recognising the European Parliament in its role as co-legislator as envisaged in the Treaty;
   (g)
to envisage from the 2002 budgetary procedure onwards a reorganisation and strengthening of financing by the European Union for:
   -
direct beneficiaries, such as refugees and victims of criminal offences,
   -
information networks that aim at facilitating the control of external borders, cooperation between judicial authorities and the supply of information for the citizens,
   -
a smooth functioning of the European agencies, such as Eurojust and Europol;
   (h)
to make provision, in the post-Nice process, for extending the co-decision procedure to all legislative fields in the areas of justice and home affairs in which the EU will have competence after work has been completed on the catalogue of competences which is part of the post-Nice process;
   (i)
to establish the framework for cooperation between Europol, Eurojust and OLAF in such a way as to guarantee the effectiveness and independence of all three bodies, as well as their full integration in the Union's institutional framework, which will enable them to benefit both the Member States and the Union institutions. Above all, this involves parliamentary scrutiny by the European Parliament;
   (j)
to ensure full participation by the European Parliament in all the measures to be taken in the context of the Schengen Agreement;
   (k)
to make a proper assessment of the current situation in the Member States and candidate countries regarding the expected impact and alternative possibilities prior to new legislative initiatives, taking account of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;
   (l)
to leave aside the multitude of uncoordinated individual initiatives of certain Member States and, instead, to submit coherent and strategically well thought-out proposals to the European Parliament as defined at Tampere and incorporated in the "scoreboard";
   (m)
to take into consideration the rejection by the European Parliament (almost unanimously) of three French initiatives on :
   -
mutual recognition of decisions on the expulsion of third country nationals(7) ,
   -
facilitation of unauthorised entry, movement and residence(8) ,
   -
financial penalties imposed on carriers(9) ,

while expressing deep concern about the willingness expressed by the Swedish Presidency to reach an agreement on these three initiatives;

   (n)
to strengthen initiatives on cross-border police cooperation and further training by developing the European police academy and creating a European border security unit, so that police forces cooperate on a cross-border basis at European level and are able to act effectively at national level on the basis of European standards;
   (o)
to reassess and extend the principle of mutual evaluation between Member States as a general method to evaluate the implementation in every Member State of the measures taken in the area of freedom, security and justice and concerning Schengen cooperation, while keeping the European Parliament regularly informed as to the results of such evaluation;
   (p)
to convene an extraordinary conference of Member State Ministers for Home Affairs and Justice during the Belgian Council Presidency in the second half of 2001, in order to have an appropriate discussion of the overall strategy of the Union in the field of freedom, security and justice in the aftermath of the European Council in Laecken;
   (q)
to call for an international conference to be convened in order to find a response to the situation of the thousands of Kurds who try to flee from their respective countries and intolerable living conditions and very often fall victim to traffickers in human beings,

4.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States and the Council of Europe.

(1) OJ L180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.
(2) OJ L 12, 16.1.2001, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 160, 30.6.2000, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 160, 30.6.2000, p. 19.
(5) OJ L 160, 30.6.2000, p. 37.
(6) OJ C 197, 12.7.2000, p. 1
(7) Texts Adopted, 13.3.2001, Item 6.
(8) Texts Adopted, 15.2.2001, Item 5.
(9) Texts Adopted, 13.3.2001, Item 2.

Last updated: 18 May 2004Legal notice