The European Area of Freedom Security and Justice : still… lost in transition ?

by Emilio De Capitani, Free Group

More than five years ago the Lisbon Treaty entered into force carrying along great expectations for the transformation of the EU into a Freedom Security and Justice area. However even if some progress has been made on Schengen,  asylum policies, procedural guarantees in criminal proceedings and judicial cooperation in civil matters the results are far lower than the initial expectations and of the ambitious objectives enshrined in the Stockholm Programme adopted by the European Council on December 10th 2009.

That Programme has been criticized by some member states as it was a sort of “Christmas tree”. However what the European Council adopted in June  last year is little more than a “dry bush” mainly focused on the need for …thorough reflections before adopting new EU legislation. Some commentators considered that this was a Machiavellian move of the European Council to pass the baton to the newly appointed President of the European Commission so that it could take the lead of this European policy as for any other “ordinary” policy.

A deceiving Commission..

In the following months this interpretation was confirmed by the appointment of the first Commission Vice President, in charge of the implementation of the rule of law, of the European Charter of fundamental rights and of better legislation. Moreover the creation of a specific portfolio for migration policy gave the impression of the Commission’s stronger political commitment “..to place the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice” (European Charter Preamble)

However very soon these initial hopes had been deceived :

1. The rule of law mechanism which was suggested by the last “Barroso” Commission was soon forgotten

2. As far as the Charter is concerned the Commission has apparently been taken by surprise by the Court of Justice opinion 2/13 dealing with the EU accession to the ECHR and is still considering what to do. But the Juncker Commission also seems lost when the issue at stake is to transpose the EU Charter principles into new EU legislation. It will only take more than one year to evaluate what could be the impact of the CJEU ruling on data retention on the pending legislation such as the EU PNR, the entry-exit and the registered travel proposals (not to speak of its impact on EU legislation and agreements that are already in force..)

3. Migration and human mobility are still dealt with and financed by the same General Directorate which is in charge of internal security policy instead of being moved to social affairs policies which should have been a real holistic and individual-centred approach.

4. Last but not least the Commission’s legislative programme for 2015 is more than reticent and it appears more and more evident that for the time being most (if not all) of the Commission’s political energy will be focused on economic objectives so that the Freedom security and justice area related policies have to wait for a new season.

… but the situation between Member States is even worse…

The situation of FSJA policies is even more frustrating on the Member States side.

Not only some legislative procedures like the ones on consular protection, access to documents  or the fight against discrimination remain blocked and others includ