Swedish Presidency Programme (1st January 30 June 2001) (extract)
AN AREA OF FREEDOM, SECURITY AND JUSTICE
The Swedish Presidency will actively pursue ongoing work to gradually establish an area of freedom, security and justice. A particularly urgent task is to strengthen the EUs common endeavours to fight crime and thereby increase citizens' safety, and also to develop a common asylum policy based on humanity and a strict application of the Geneva Convention. Sweden will strive to ensure that the opportunities the Treaty of Amsterdam provides for cooperation in the area of justice are grasped and that the decisions taken at the special summit meeting in Tampere are followed up.
Work in the field of justice may be divided into crime policy and civil law cooperation. Crime must be reduced - the EU provides the opportunities to achieve this. The objective is to formulate an effective, human and well balanced crime policy in the Union. Cooperation will build on the cornerstones of preventing crime, combating crime and redressing the consequences of crime. This work must obviously be based on respect for the equal value of all humans. The Swedish Presidency will continue to play an active role in introducing crime prevention aspects into European cooperation. Efforts to strengthen the status of crime victims in the legal process will continue. Sweden will also accord priority to the work in progress to enhance cooperation in criminal justice across national boundaries. Our aim is that judgements and court decisions pronounced in one Member States should be valid and enforceable within the entire Union. The establishment of the cooperation body, Eurojust, in which prosecutors from all EU Member States are to cooperate in international criminal investigations, will be high on the agenda. Special effort will also be devoted to fighting serious environmental offences and combating trafficking in human beings, particularly women and children. Measures against money laundering and other types of economic crime will be pursued actively as will issues concerning IT crime. Sweden will also strive to counter drug abuse by taking measures to reduce both the supply of and demand for drugs.
The crime policy area also comprises police cooperation with the aim of enhancing police ability to solve crimes. Initial steps taken to endow Europol with greater powers in the fight against, inter alia, economic, environmental and IT crime will be followed up. Police cooperation should also be strengthened by intensifying the exchange of information. Cooperation in police training matters within the framework of the European Police Academy will commence. The operative entry of the Nordic countries into cooperation under the Schengen Treaty will be implemented. Regarding cooperation in the area of civil law, Sweden is particularly interested in making progress in issues that are crucial to the ordinary citizen. The realisation of the internal market presupposes that the rights of people and businesses have legal force across national borders. Measures to simplify and speed up execution of judgements in other Member States are important in this context.
Cooperation between courts of law in the Union when evidence is to be taken in another Member State will also be improved. Another high priority issue is the establishment of networks which, inter alia, will give citizens easy access to information about the court procedure in Member States and concerning the material rules that apply, for example in connection with purchasing products or leasing a holiday home.
Migration and asylum policy
In the field of migration and asylum policy Sweden attaches particular importance to continuing work on a general, European migration strategy based on the Treaty of Amsterdam. In accordance with the conclusions of the meeting of the European Council in Tampere, Sweden intends to work during the period of its Presidency for the continued development of a common EU policy in the asylum and migration field, in which humanity, solidarity, and respect for the right to seek asylum will be the foundation.
Conditions for the reception of asylum seekers are particularly important. The goal is to create good conditions for the reception of asylum seekers in all EU Member States. The Swedish Presidency wants to focus on the special needs of particularly vulnerable groups - such as the needs of children and of women who have been exposed to sexual violence.
The Swedish Presidency will also aim for the adoption of common rules on temporary protection in situations of mass exodus.
Furthermore, Sweden will make an active contribution to the formulation of uniform minimum standards governing the rules for asylum procedures. Another essential task is to establish minimum norms for protection within the EU, both regarding the interpretation of the Geneva Convention and rules for protection on other grounds.
In order to achieve results in this area it is also of paramount importance - as indicated in the Tampere conclusions - to draw up an overarching strategy for greater mainstreaming of migration and asylum issues in all Community policy areas and in external contacts. A priority during the Swedish Presidency will be to emphasise the importance of a holistic approach to migration issues. Through our foreign policy and international development cooperation we can influence the conditions that force people to leave their home countries.
The integration and rights of immigrants will be accorded special priority. The rights enjoyed by citizens of third countries vary from Member State to Member State in the EU today. As far as
possible, work should urgently be initiated within the framework of the EU to grant immigrants rights on a par with those accorded to EU citizens.
If we are to be able to harmonise policies, mutual knowledge of the conditions in Member States pertaining to migration issues must be improved. During the Presidency period Sweden will strive to improve exchange of information and statistics. A greater degree of openness and more information will furthermore benefit public debate and the image of immigration conveyed to citizens of the EU.