The creation of an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) is one of the objectives of the European Union (EU). It is based on Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and on Article 67 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In this area with no internal borders, citizens can move about freely. The AFSJ also includes measures in respect to external border controls, asylum and immigration, as well as in regard to preventing and fighting crime.
The legally binding EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights consolidates all the fundamental rights applicable at the European Union (EU) level. In addition to protecting civil and political rights, it covers workers’ social rights, data protection, bioethics and the right to good administration.
The primary aim of the EU’s justice policy is to create an EU-wide area of justice based on mutual cooperation in the fields of both civil and criminal law. This entails building up mutual trust among EU countries’ courts and national administrations and their mutual recognition of judicial decisions.
In the area of civil law, the EU has introduced a wide range of measures. These seek to give citizens greater legal certainty and easy and effective access to justice when they are involved in issues of a cross-border nature, such as disputes, divorces, etc.
In the EU, where people and goods can move around freely, it is important to establish a European area of justice. To address the challenges posed by crime, the EU has introduced laws that seek to ensure that the rights of victims, suspects and prisoners are safeguarded in cross-border cases (such as on mutual legal assistance, the mutual recognition of decisions in criminal cases and the European Arrest Warrant).
In both the criminal and civil law areas, measures have been adopted to:
- simplify procedures enabling national courts to cooperate with their equivalents in other EU countries,
- train professionals involved in cross-border cases, and
- develop information and communication technologies (like videoconferencing) in the EU’s justice system (e-Justice).
In March 2014, the European Commission adopted a communication entitled ‘The EU Justice Agenda for 2020 – Strengthening Trust, Mobility and Growth within the Union’. This outlines its vision for the future of EU justice policy.
For the period 2014-2020, a sum of €377.6 million has been allocated to the EU’s Justice Programme which aims to ensure that EU civil and criminal justice legislation is implemented correctly.
Source: EUR Lex Glossary