Justice, freedom and security in the EU: a stock-taking

7 June 2010

Jonathan Faull, Director General of the European Commission's Justice, Freedom and Security (JLS) Department, said Schengen was “a huge success story”, as citizens of Schengen countries have a border extending to Russia, Greece, and Turkey. This achievement is rooted in trust that each country will do its part in cooperating and information-sharing, and a major challenge is to achieve a balance between information storing and sharing, and data protection.

Mr Faull was disappointed in the lack of progress in building an adequate framework for legal immigration as the EU has been more rigorous in trying to stop illegal immigration, and has yet to create a policy allowing for properly organised, safe immigration, which ensures that people will not be exploited or discriminated against. There is still a lot to do, and as immigration is a “controversial, sometimes toxic issue in politics” this has hindered progress.

Consensus is high among Member States about cooperating to work against illegal immigration, with practices in place for the protection, control, and management of the Schengen area, supported by legal instruments. However the EU’s immigration policy is “lop-sided” and there needs to be coherent, common strategies.

Europe prides itself on supporting those who seek asylum, but there is considerable variation between the asylum systems in each EU Member State, with only “embryonic steps” towards the common European asylum system. Member States have agreed to retain individual responsibility for granting asylum, but agree that outcomes for asylum seekers should be relatively equal and predictable across the Union in order to avoid “asylum shopping”.

The JLD Director-General said it was important that border control compliments immigration laws, and although this is a challenging task, it is not impossible. EU legislation is “only the tip of the ice berg”, as the main responsibility lies in the Member States, which need to share intelligence, intelligence policing and modern technology.

“Europe is relatively well-equipped to deal with all these challenges”, he finished.