Freedom, security and justice

In brief

One of the Union’s objectives is to provide citizens with an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) 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 fight against crime, including prevention.

Cooperation in this field is still relatively young. It is only since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty that the AFSJ 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 and 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

New strategic guidelines for Justice and Home Affairs are expected in 2020, reflecting the EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 which wasadopted by the European Council of June 2019.

The main areas for action include:

  • ensuring the protection of the EU values and the rule of law;
  • strengthening mutual trust by ensuring better application of the Union law and encouraging new working methods;
  • strengthening the Schengen area;
  • reforming migration, asylum and border policy effectively ;
  • effective management of migration, asylum and border policy;
  • consolidating a genuine area of freedom, security and justice;
  • strengthening judicial cooperation with respect for the different legal systems;
  • acquiring expertise in new technologies and artificial intelligence.

The work programme will be adapted according the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 and the European arrest warrant. These efforts will be continued in the coming years. Decision-makers intend to simplify access to justice, to encourage the 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 make more systematic use of relevant EU agencies such as Eurojust.

Belgium is committed to reinforcing the instruments for protecting the rule of law and supports the Commission in its efforts to develop a monitoring mechanism for the rule of law in the Member States.

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 each another. Closer international police and judicial cooperation is necessary to tackle the globalisation of crime.

In the field of asylum and migration, the European Union needs to reform its policies in order to increase efficiency and solidarity.In this major project, Belgium is seeking to find a balance between responsibilities and solidarity between Member States to respond to irregular migration, to promote the efficient management of EU external borders and to benefit from legal immigration. It is also imperative to ensure optimal coherence between the migration policy and the external and development policies of the EU. Belgium has always been in favour of a strong Common European asylum system that complies with international obligations and the principle of non-refoulement.

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