Select Committee on European Union Tenth Report



The Hague Programme is a blueprint for EU action in the sensitive area of Justice and Home Affairs over the next five years. It is regrettable that the Government saw fit to withhold from scrutiny drafts of the Programme prior to its adoption by the European Council.

The Commission is preparing an Action Plan to implement the Hague Programme. We make our recommendations in this Report so that they can be taken into account in the drafting of the Action Plan. In particular, the Committee considers that:

  • The emphasis that the Programme places on respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and for the legal traditions of Member States is welcome.

  • The emphasis placed on the evaluation of these policies is also welcome. Such evaluation must be independent and its results made public.

  • The Commission and Member States must give full weight to the need to protect fundamental rights when developing and implementing the Action Plan.

  • The concept of a Common European Asylum System remains valid to ensure consistent standards across the EU and prevent "asylum shopping", but any new EU standards on asylum must ensure a high level of protection in accordance with international human rights and refugee law.

  • Effective EU action to counter irregular migration is hard to achieve without a common EU policy on legal migration.

  • There is a need for much improved co-ordination between national law enforcement authorities and better use of Europol by Member States, but this must be accompanied by the development of specific EU data protection standards for the Third Pillar.

  • A degree of harmonisation of the criminal laws of Member States may be necessary to facilitate the development of the mutual recognition programme and to protect the rights of individuals. However, before any further expansion of harmonisation there needs to be a full examination of its implications for Member States.

  • EU action in civil law is acceptable only if it adds value and is absolutely necessary to improve the daily life of EU residents in situations having a cross-border dimension. Such action must respect the limits of EU competence in this area and the principle of subsidiarity.

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