Dutch EU presidency launches new JHA programme

By EDRi · November 17, 2004

The Dutch presidency of the EU has launched a new 5 year programme for
Justice and Home Affairs. The previous five year plan, the Tampere
Programme, was launched under the Finnish presidency of the EU. The new
‘Hague Programme’ was discussed at the Brussels European Council on 4 and
5 November and will be presented by Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter
Balkenende to the European Parliament tomorrow, 18 November 2004.

The programme focuses on the current tendency of considering illegal
migration a ‘cross-border problem’, along with terrorism and organised
crime. Making reference to the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the U.S.,
and on 11 March 2004 in Madrid, it states ‘a new urgency’ for the security
of the EU and its member states.

The means by which the EU Council hopes to achieve this security have
already been abundantly discussed at earlier dates; biometrics,
integration of databases, closer collaboration and operationalisation of
EuroJust and EuroPol.

On biometrics, the programme wants the EU to find ‘a coherent approach and
harmonised solutions’ for travel documents, mainly for border control
purposes. This data are to be stored in a network of databases made up
from the present Schengen Information System (respectively SIS II), the
Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC, if the European Commission
finds these systems are sufficiently interoperable. The Commission is
currently preparing a report on these systems.

The institutions that use these databases, police forces and in particular
Europol, are to become more networked and more operational. Europol will
work closer together with Eurojust, and it will publish, starting in
January 2006, yearly ‘threat assessment reports’ on serious forms of
crime, especially if organised cross-border. At the same time, national
police forces should enhance their bi- and multilateral co-operation.

Unfortunately, while promoting cross-border co-operation of authorities
and encouraging the creation and linking-up of transnational databases,
the Hague Programme fails to counterbalance these measures with adequate
civil rights, like better privacy protection, access to documents, more
rights for the European Parliament or better access for individuals to the
European Justice system.

Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council (4-5.11.2004)
http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/04/st14/st14292.en04.pdf (48 p.,
260 kB)

Statewatch analysis (prepared by Professor Steve Peers, University of
Essex, 05.11.2004)

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU Affairs Director)