The EU wants its citizens to enjoy freedom to travel, work and live within the Union, and to
• lead their lives in security and safety
• be protected against international crime and terrorism
• be given equal access to justice & respect for their fundamental rights across the EU
• ensure immigration from third countries is managed in a fair and sustainable way.
Guaranteeing fundamental rights: The Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out all the personal, civil, political, economic and social rights EU citizens enjoy. The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) helps policy-makers to make new laws and works to raise public awareness of fundamental rights. The ‘Schengen agreement’ ensures the right to travel freely from one country to another. With the exceptions of UK, Ireland (when entering from a country other than the UK), Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, EU citizens don’t have to show their passports or identity cards when they enter another EU country. The five million non-EU citizens currently working in the Union also enjoy important rights. Common procedures have been drawn up to cover family reunification and ways to integrate new arrivals into an unfamiliar environment.
Cooperation between judicial authorities: EU authorities work together to beat cross-border crime. As people travel freely within the EU, it is important that they do not lose access to, or manage to escape from, justice. Cooperation has intensified between national judicial systems to ensure that legal decisions taken in one member country are recognised and implemented in another. These principles are especially important in civil proceedings concerning divorce, child custody, maintenance claims or even bankruptcy and unpaid bills, when the individuals involved live in different countries. The EU has established the European Judicial Network in order to improve judicial cooperation between the Member States in combating serious crimes such as corruption, drug trafficking and terrorism.
The European arrest warrant has replaced lengthy extradition procedures so that suspected or convicted criminals who have fled abroad can be swiftly returned to the country where they were, or will be, tried.
Managing asylum and immigration: As more people try to enter the Union to escape war, persecution, natural disasters, or for better future, EU governments are developing common solutions to shared challenges. Minimum standards and procedures are being drawn up as to how asylum applications should be processed, the status of people granted asylum and the role of national authorities in meeting these responsibilities.
The 2008 European pact on immigration and asylum sets out the principles behind a number of EU laws. The aim is to organise legal immigration taking into account the priorities and needs of each EU-country and encourages integration. The EU’s external border control will be made more effective and partnerships established with the countries of origin and of transit, in order to improve their living conditions.
The Frontex agency organises operational cooperation between the EU countries in the field of external border security, to reduce illegal immigration. Internal freedom of movement is only possible with effective and efficient controls at all points of entry into the EU.
Fighting crime throughout the EU: Guaranteeing the security of its citizens is one of the EU’s central priorities, using both practical and legislative weapons to prevent organised criminals e.g. drug barons, people traffickers, money launderers and terrorists from exploiting the freedoms the EU brings. On the practical front, national police forces are cooperating more, especially within the framework of Europol.