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Area of freedom, security and justice: Untapped potential

Written by Wouter Van Ballegooij,

Statue of Lady Justice

© shutterstock / Erhan Dayi

Since the entry into force of the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, the EU offers its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ). In this area, the free movement of persons should be ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum and migration, as well as the prevention and combating of crime. Since then, the Union has adopted its own Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the European Parliament has been fully engaged in shaping the AFSJ as a co-legislator. Two decades later, however, the Union and its Member States still face major challenges in delivering this objective. Problems have been identified in upholding democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, ensuring a high level of security (notably in the fight against corruption, organised crime and terrorism), protecting external borders, guaranteeing the right to asylum and developing a common migration policy. Surveys show that citizens expect the EU and its Member States to deliver in these areas, notably in the area of migration and the fight against terrorism and fraud.

In October 2016, the Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee requested the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) to produce a ‘Cost of Non-Europe Report‘ on the AFSJ. This paper contains an overview of the existing gaps and barriers in the main policy areas covered by the AFSJ, and assesses their economic impacts as well as impacts at individual level on fundamental rights and freedoms. It also assesses options for action at EU level that could address those gaps and barriers, together with an estimation of their potential cost and benefits.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Area of freedom, security and justice:Untapped potential‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

About EAVA

The European Parliament's European Added Value Unit provides European Added Value Assessments and Cost of Non-Europe Reports which analyze policy areas where common action at EU level is absent but could bring greater efficiency and a public good for European citizens.

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