14 Jul 2014

The European Council’s Guidelines for the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice 2020

Subverting the ‘Lisbonisation’ of Justice and Home Affairs?

Sergio Carrera / Elspeth Guild

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In its Conclusions of 26-27 June 2014, the European Council has adopted the new “Strategic Guidelines for Legislative and Operational Planning for the coming years within the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ)”. These Guidelines reveal a pre-Lisbon Treaty mindset among the EU member states and the Justice and Home Affairs Council. This essay argues that the Guidelines are mainly driven by the interests and agendas of national Ministries of Interior and Justice and are only “strategic” insofar as they aim, first, to re-inject ‘intergovernmentalism’ or the old EU Third Pillar ways of working into the new EU institutional setting of the AFSJ and second, to sideline the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and rule of law in the AFSJ.

The paper also argues that the European Council Guidelines seek to prevent the advances in Justice and Home Affairs cooperation as envisaged in the Treaty of Lisbon; particularly its emphasis on supranational democratic, legal and judicial accountability. As a consequence of this move to ‘de-Lisbonise’ JHA cooperation, fundamental rights and rule of law-related initiatives will be neglected and the interests of the individual will be displaced from the centre of gravity in the coming AFSJ 2020 policy agenda.

Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs section at CEPS. Elspeth Guild is Senior Associate Fellow at CEPS and Jean Monnet Professor ad personam, Radboud University, Nijmegen and Queen Mary, University of London.