Stockholm programme adopted by the European Parliament

By EDRi · December 2, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Europäisches Parlament nimmt Stockholmer Programm an|]

After six months of preparation, the European Union has almost reached
agreement (somewhat behind schedule) on its 5-year plan for policy in the
area of “freedom, security and justice”, better known as the “Stockholm
Programme”. Discussions on this proposal took place in parallel, with the
European Parliament preparing its opinion on the dossier at the same time as
Member States were working towards finalising the “real” text. While the
European Parliament’s views have had a limited direct impact on the
Stockholm Programme itself, they will have an influence on the practical
projects that are subsequently set up by this new plan.

The text adopted by the Parliament, in great haste and some chaos,
is a mix of some very positive statements and some less helpful ones. On the
plus side, an attempt was made to reshape the post-9/11 “balance” metaphor
with regard to freedoms and justice: “(…) the EU is rooted in the
principle of freedom; points out that, in support of that freedom, security
must be pursued in accordance with the rule of law and subject to
fundamental rights obligations; states that the balance between security and
freedom must be seen from this perspective”. There is also a stress on
reviewing the impact of measures adopted under the programme and improving
the evaluation systems already in place. On the negative side, opportunities
were missed with regard to minimum levels of diligence to be required of the
European Commission with regard to the issues to be addressed in impact
assessments and with regard to the dangers inherent in the use of databases,
particularly when these are interlinked.

The Council, meanwhile, hit some problems in last minute discussions on the
Programme, although at the time of writing, these problems do not appear
fatal for the initiative as a whole. Bearing in mind the wish of one Member
State Minister expressed during the debate between ministers, that the
Stockholm Programme will lead to the “eradication of terrorism” and the wish
of another that the programme would deal effectively with petty crime, it
appears that some Member States have somewhat unrealistic expectations of
the initiative. On the plus side, the text deleted some of the more
destructive and populist (blocking of websites) and downright dangerous
(“revoking” of the IP addresses of foreign ISPs considered criminal by the
police) measures in the European Commission’s Communication of June of this
year, which was meant to form the basis of the Programme. On the negative
side, the Council appears to be slipping into the misconception that
IT-based automated policing will somehow produce systems that will be both
cheaper and more efficient while also not endangering citizens’ rights. This
trend is demonstrated by its proposal (albeit neatly framed with words about
protection of personal data) on “interoperability of IT systems ensuring
full conformity with data protection and data security principles when
developing such systems.” Within the context, and keeping to this worrying
theme, Swedish Minister Beatrice Ask (at the beginning of discussions in the
Council) expressed her hope for the creation of “more cost-effective data

As mentioned above, disagreements and delays have significantly slowed the
final adoption of the text. While Ministers all agreed that citizens should
be happy to trust any government (including foreign governments, following
the SWIFT agreement on exchange of banking data) with their personal data,
they did not trust each other to be responsible for mutually recognised
asylum procedures. As a result, this aspect of the Programme has delayed its

The next stage in this process will be the preparation of concrete projects
to be proposed within the context of the adopted text. This will be done by
the European Commission, ostensibly with the support of the Spanish
Presidency of the Council.

Commission Communication (10.06.2009)

Last available consolidated text

Second-last set of amendments to the Programme (27.11.2009)

EDRi-gram: Stockholm Programme moves quickly towards adoption (9.09.2009)