The evaluation of Europol, Eurojust, FRONTEX and the Schengen Agreement was at the centre of an inter-parliamentary committee meeting organised by the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on 4 and 5 October.
The meeting provided MEPs and members of national Parliaments a first opportunity after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty to discuss the issue of democratic accountability of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.
The first part of the meeting focused on FRONTEX, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Members States of the European Union. The participants were expected to discuss the activities of the Agency so far as well as the recent EC proposals concerning changes in the FRONTEX regulation. These proposals are being currently examined by the European Parliament and the Council.
Europol was at the centre of the second part of the meeting. Since the beginning of 2010 Europol has become a formal EU Agency and benefits from increased powers to collect criminal information in supporting investigations of serious offences. According to the Lisbon Treaty, national Parliaments are to be involved in the political monitoring of Europol.
The third part of the meeting focused on Eurojust, an EU Agency whose task is to enhance the effectiveness of the national authorities when they are dealing with the investigation and prosecution of cross-border and organized crime. The Treaty of Lisbon devotes a specific provision to Eurojust and provides for the European Parliament and national Parliament to evaluate its activities.
The final part of the meeting dealt with the Schengen Agreement and its 25th anniversary. The signatory states to the agreement have abolished all internal borders in lieu of a single external border. They also apply common rules and procedures with regard to visas for short stays, asylum requests and border controls.