Freedom, security and justice

In brief

One of the Union’s objectives is to provide citizens with an area of freedom, security and justice (FSJ) without internal borders, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.

The cooperation in this field is still relatively young. It is only since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty that FSJ has become an integral part of the acquis communautaire. Several important new elements have been introduced: a more democratic decision-making procedure which increases accountability, legitimacy, more competences for the Court of Justice of the EU and a new role for national parliaments. The Fundamental Rights are supported by the legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In practice

The European Council of June 2014 approved the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning in the area of freedom, security and justice for the period 2015-2019. In these guidelines priority will be given to the consistent transposition and the practical implementation of existing legal instruments and policy measures. It is crucial that the operational cooperation is strengthened, using the opportunities now available in the area of information and communication technology. The most important elements are:

  • guaranteeing the protection and promotion of fundamental rights
  • efficient and effective management of migration, asylum and border policy
  • efficient management of the common external borders
  • the pursuit of a genuine area of security by operational police cooperation and by tackling organized crime
  • a genuine European area of justice with respect for the different legal systems
  • guaranteeing the right to the free movement of EU citizens to travel, reside and work in other Member States.

Objectives for Belgium

Belgium works to promote a genuine common European area of justice based on trust, mobility and growth. Therefore we need to continue to work on the principle of mutual recognition. To that effect, progress has been made in cross-border enforcement of judicial decisions in civil and commercial matters, together with the European Investigation Order. These efforts will be continued in the coming years. The aim is to simplify access to justice, to encourage use of technological innovations (e-justice), to make additional efforts to strengthen the rights of both suspects and victims of crime in criminal proceedings, to further improve the mutual recognition of decisions and judgments, to strengthen the exchange of information between Member States, and to further make use of relevant EU agencies such as Eurojust.

Belgium strives for a protective and safe Europe. Although security often remains a question of national competence, the fight against terrorism requires a global approach at EU level, in which internal and external components should mutually reinforce one another.  To a considerable extent, Belgium supports the comprehensive approach of EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove. Closer international police and judicial cooperation is necessary to tackle the globalisation of crime. Furthermore, there is a need for better and more thorough border controls and an improved use of the Schengen Information System (SIS).

In the field of asylum and migration, the European Union needs an efficient, well managed migration policy based on solidarity in order to cope with the major challenges of today’s world. It requires a comprehensive approach in which the advantages of legal migration are harnessed, the EU upholds its humanitarian tradition of offering protection to those fleeing war or persecution, while on the other hand decisively addressing illegal migration and efficiently managing the external borders of the EU. Therefore it is necessary to ensure the greatest possible coherence between the migration policy and the external and development policies of the EU. It is of central importance for Belgium that the European migration policy balances responsibility and solidarity. Belgium has always been in favour of a strong Common European Asylum System.

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