Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Prisoners in Paradise: EU Member States, Justice and Home Affairs and the Lisbon Treaty

(Thanks to whatahotel.com)

Dr Adam Lazowski of the University of Westminster is giving a talk today at Sussex European Institute on "Prisoners in Paradise: EU Member States, Justice and Home Affairs and the Lisbon Treaty".

Justice and Home Affairs remains one of the most intriguing policy areas of the European Union.  It is exactly where the worlds collide.  On the one hand we witness an ever growing need for closer co-operation between the Member States, on the other, we can't fail to see their natural reluctance to give up one of the last castles of sovereignty (as perceived by some in rather XIX century terms).   Arguably, this creates lot of new phenomena.  The post-Amsterdam developments have proven that the Member States tend to behave like prisoners in paradise, at the same time very close and very far from one another.  In one - more or less chaotic move - they unanimously agree to a new piece of legislation giving the principle of mutual recognition in the area of criminal law a real meaning, but - in the very next move - they fail to give such law effect and remain strongly opposed to the ECJ's teological interpretation of law.  Notorious delays in the transposition and implementation of third pillar legislation remain an every day feature of the Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters.  The situation is considerably different in the remaining JHA areas, which - in a rather desperate late 1990s charade - were moved to the first pillar of the EU.  Yet, while the transposition record remains satisfactory, the Member States still remain trapped by this real conundrum - how to reconcile the need for closer integration with ghosts of sovereignty, that is perceived in a very traditional fashion.  Ten years after the European Council proclaimed the plan for the Area of Freedom Security and Justice it seems fitting to take a critical look at the developments of the last decade.  Many things have changed for good, that's clear.  The European Union is now composed of twenty seven Member States, the internal market seems to be working, yet the attempt to constitutionalize the European Union has taken quite unprecedented turns.  Quite a number of legal acts dealing with JHA matters has been adopted in course of the last decade.  In a way, this is testing the limits and potential of the European Union and, at the same time, the ability of the Member States to take seriously their obligations stemming from the EU Treaty.  The main argument of this paper presupposes that the Member States behave a bit like prisoners in paradise, too afraid to take further moves to get closer with one another, yet quite aware of the need to proceed in such direction.  Consequentially, the end result is an attempt to reconcile those two factors.  Such reluctance, hesitation, lack of consequence and - at times - illogical and slightly schizophrenic behaviour remain the idiosyncrasies of the Justice and Home Affairs Area.  Whether this is a typical child disease, which is curable and will disappear sometime as the child grows or it will become one of the qualities of an adult, remains to be seen.  For the time being, this remains of the central features of policy making, affecting the effectiveness and usefulness of its products.  The question is if the new framework introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon is the right panacea for this child disease.


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