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
- 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
- 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.