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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Informal JHA: “Strengthening security”

Date of release : 28-01-2005

Policy area : Justice and Home Affairs Justice and Home Affairs

Event : Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers

The second working session of the informal meeting of the Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs, being held on 28 and 29 January in Luxembourg, has been devoted to operational police and judicial cooperation at the European level for purposes of increasing security.

Within this framework, the Presidency asked different ministers to respond to the following four questions: What are the different points as regards the committee of the new Constitutional Treaty? How should police cooperation in border regions within the Union be developed? What is the future vision for Europol and Eurojust when the Permanent Security Committee is put in place? And finally: what should the format be for exchange of information under the principle of availability?

During the debate, the need to improve operational coordination was clearly recognised by all the delegations. On this subject, the future Constitutional Treaty envisages the installation of a Permanent Internal Security Committee to ensure the promotion and strengthening of operational cooperation in the area of internal security.

This committee should also facilitate the coordination of the action of the competent authorities of the Member States. The Council is responsible for creating the committee so that it will be operational as at 1 January 2008, that being the date the Constitutional Treaty comes into force. The Presidency seeks to define the area of activity, functions, competencs and composition of the Committeel as rapidly as possible, but diverging points of view have emerged among the participants on functional responsibility.

During the discussions, Luc Frieden stated that "this permanent committee in the area of freedom, security and justice will not be purely an operational structure, but rather, a strategic and analytical normative structure that will work under the authority of the Council. It will carry out certain tasks. It will strengthen the other purely operational structures, such as the European police service, Europol, the European body for judicial cooperation, Eurojust, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at External Borders, the Task Force of Police Chiefs and the expert group SITCEN."

Within the framework of police cooperation in the border regions, the Luxembourg Presidency confirmed that since the application of the Schengen Agreement, the Member States of the European Union have signed bilateral agreements that introduce cooperation between the different police services. However, these bilateral accords are not identical, as certain cross-border interventions are not possible throughout Europe.

"And yet", declared Luc Frieden, "in a common area of security and with no internal borders, the same level of cross-border police cooperation should be achieved throughout the territory of the European Union, particularly in the border regions." To achieve this objective, the Luxembourg Presidency has proposed the development of a systematic, flexible way to apply the "common model agreements" at the level of the Union based on best practices. These agreements could serve as a judicial framework for police cooperation between Member States at the bilateral or trilateral level.

When the Permanent Internal Security Committee has been put in place, it should not, in the opinion of the Presidency, be overlapping of responsabilities or tasks between the committee and those assigned to Europol and Eurojust. These three complementary structures will allow the EU to achieve these internal security objectives.

Finally, strengthening European internal security also fits in with a substantial improvement in the exchange of information. This objective should be achieved by the introduction of the " principle of availability " envisaged in "The Hague Programme". On this topic, the Luxembourg Presidency desires that the competent ministers in the area of internal security more precisely define the principle of availability and identify its limits. The indications provided by the Member States on these subjects should assist the Council in taking policy decisions to establish the mechanism to be implemented before 2008. Luc Frieden stated that "the Luxembourg Presidency wants concrete results. What is available to some should be made available to others."

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This page was last modified on : 29-01-2005

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