Living in an area of freedom, security and justice

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Publication Date 2001
ISBN 92-894-0196-6
EC NC-32-00-960-EN-C
Content Type


The European Union (EU) is much more than an economic entity. I is home to over 375 million people who are not just consumers in a vast single market but also citizens of the European Union. They expect to live without fear of persecution or violence wherever they may be within the EU's territory.

The EU legislation on 'justice and home affairs' (JHA) has been designed to address such concerns. These lows deal with complex issues of security, rights and freedom and, in many ways, they lie at the heart of the concept of European citizenship. They touch on some of the most difficult and sensitive issues currently facing all 15 EU Member States. They include political asylum, illegal immigration, organised crime, drug smuggling and terrorism. Justice and home affairs rules also govern the way the European Union's national courts work together when people are involved in legal proceedings in more than one EU country.

Within the next few years, justice and home affairs are set to become increasingly important. As more and more Europeans take advantage of their rights to move around the EU for either business or personal reasons, the need for greater cooperation between national police forces, customs services and legal systems is set to increase enormously.

Similarly, the activities of international terrorist groups and organised criminal organisations mean the EU's national law enforcement agencies must cooperate with their counterparts in other EU countries on an almost daily basis.

Elsewhere, the need for a more coordinated way of dealing with people applying for political asylum within the EU has been highlighted by influxes of refugees fleeing trouble spots like Iraq and former Yugoslavia. This is why EU leaders have committed themselves to ensuring that the European Union develops into a real 'area of freedom, security and justice' as soon as possible.

Subject Categories
International Organisations