Full interview with Jonathan Faull, Director-General European Commission’s DG Justice and Home Affai

In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV, Jonathan Faull, the European Commission Director General for Justice and Home Affairs, highlights the main challenges in building an area of freedom, security and justice.

The Tampere European Council in October 1999 set a May 2004
deadline to complete priority EU actions in organised crime and
immigration & asylum. What will the main JHA priorities be in
an enlarged EU?

Given the deadline of 1 May 2004 set by the
Amsterdam Treaty and the Tampere agenda for the development of the
first phase of the EU’s area of Freedom, Security and Justice, the
Commission intends to present in June 2004 a Communication
assessing the achievements of the last five years and indicating
what remains to be done. The Commission considers that the draft
Treaty texts produced by the Convention and currently under
discussion in the IGC are a very good basis on which to build the
second stage of the area of Freedom, Security and Justice. It is
time to make sure that law-abiding people can take full advantage
of our vast territory, our great area of democratic values and our
single market with its many common policies, while on the other
hand putting in place the measures we need to fight successfully
against those who seek to exploit the Union’s openness and
diversity for criminal purposes. That is the challenge ahead, the
new frontier.

At the moment we are working, in particular, on
the issue of procedural safeguards for suspects and defendants in
criminal proceedings throughout the Union. Following our Green
Paper in early 2003 and the positive responses we received to it,
we will present in 2004 a proposal for a framework decision on this
matter as one of a series of measures to guarantee protection of
fundamental rights. We will issue a Green Paper on alternatives to
detention for people awaiting trial in another Member State.

After the failure of the IGC talks and the recognition that
no agreement could be found on a constitution for the EU, some
Member States are reported to be in favour of creating a “two-speed
Europe”. What would a core Europe mean in the field of Justice and
Home Affairs?

Europe has always progressed at different
speeds. After all, the whole process started with six Member States
in 1958. We have 12 Member States sharing a common currency.
However, accommodation of the diversity between Member States
should take place within the EU’s institutional framework. This
applies to JHA issues as well. Take the Schengen area, one of
Europe’s great successes. It does not encompass the whole EU, while
at the same time it does include non-EU members (Norway and
Iceland). The important thing is that we have brought its policy
development and decision-making processes into the normal EU
framework. Time and time again it has been shown that the
“Community method” works best: let’s use it.

What is your perception of the way the G5 (the Ministers of
Interior from the EU five biggest Member States – Britain, France,
Germany, Italy and Spain) have gone about tackling terrorism and
illegal immigration. Could this lead to enhanced
co-operation?

The so-called “G5” meets informally and does not
take decisions. Perhaps these meetings help the participants
clarify their national positions to each other. So far, I must say
that they have not led to changes in the JHA Council, where the
five countries concerned agree and disagree with each other no more
and no less than they did before. I doubt therefore that enhanced
cooperation will follow.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, most
proposals in JHA now appear to focus heavily on security and the
fight against illegal immigration, terrorism and organised crime.
What does the Commission intend to do to redress the balance in
favour of the “freedom” aspect of the area of freedom, security and
justice?

It is true that following the tragic events of
the 11th September 2001, the European Union had to react promptly
to the terrorist threat and respond to the public’s demand for
enhanced security. The Commission moved fast and, for example,
secured adoption of “framework decisions” on the European Arrest
Warrant and definitions and sanctions applicable to terrorist
offences. EU policy seeks a balanced approach between freedom,
security and justice. Since 2001, we have worked hard on the mutual
recognition programme. Mutual recognition means that courts in one
Member State recognise and enforce the decisions taken in another,
without further ado. That in turn requires mutual confidence
between Member States: judges and ordinary people must trust each
other’s legal systems and procedures. Some common understandings
about rules, definitions and procedures are therefore
necessary.

In September 2003, Italian Justice Minister Giuseppe Pisanu
proposed to set up legal immigrant quotas and asked the Commission
to do an in-depth study on this issue. What are the preliminary
results? Is it likely that quotas will be set? How are they going
to be determined?

The October 2003 European Council asked us to
study the use of quotas and consider more widely “the relationship
between legal and illegal immigration”. The study is under way and
its conclusions will be presented in a Communication at the end of
April this year. It will review Member States’ and Acceding
Countries’ systems of admission for economic migrants and bilateral
labour agreements. An analysis will be included of the impact of
legal migration measures on illegal migration flows. It is not our
intention to propose EU-wide quotas, but rather to consider the
ways in which national quotas, where they exist, can help us in our
discussions with foreign countries about illegal immigration and
readmission of people living illegally in the EU.

What specific plans does DG JAI have to guarantee the
effective protection of the Union’s external borders after the next
phase of enlargement? Will the new Member States receive extra
funding to increase their human resources/equipment?

In the process of preparing the new Member
States for accession, we have checked in detail their compliance
with the Schengen and external border rules. A great deal of work
has been done in the new Member States. In addition, Article 35 of
the Treaty of Accession created the “Schengen Facility” of almost 1
billion euros in the period 2004-2006 for seven of them to assist
them in the continuing effort to upgrade their infrastructure at
the future external borders, including for preparation for entering
the Schengen area fully. It should be borne in mind that the
internal border controls between the old and the new Member States
and between the new member States themselves will not disappear on
1 May 2004. As with the last enlargement, this will be done only
when the Council decides that all the “necessary conditions for the
application of all parts of the acquis concerned” have been met. So
there is still a lot of work ahead of us.

 

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