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Background Information


Cooperation between Member States in the area of justice and home affairs began in 1993 with the Treaty of Maastricht. In the third pillar (Justice and Home Affairs), governments undertook to deal jointly with issues relating to immigration and asylum policy as well as combating crime.

In 1999, the further development of the EU as an area of freedom, security and justice was written into the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999) as one of the fundamental aims of the European Union. The EU’s powers in the areas of visas, asylum, immigration, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters as well as police cooperation come under the heading “Area of Freedom, Security and Justice”. To achieve these aims, the multi-annual Tampere action programme laid down policy guidelines and specific objectives, which were implemented from 1999 to 2004.

In November 2004, the European Council accepted the Hague programme strengthening freedom, security and justice within the EU, which builds on the Tampere programme. The Hague programme maps out future EU policy in the areas of justice and home affairs. To complement this programme, an action plan was prepared and adopted which, in addition to general observations on the political objectives of the Hague programme and 10 priorities for the next five years, contains a list of projects with an exact timetable. For example, it sets the priorities in the areas of asylum, migration, police and judicial cooperation, border protection, the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

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Date: 21.12.2005