Perform a cursory evaluation of the involvement of local and regional authorities in the justice and home affairs policies under the Stockholm Programme;
Propose main policy elements on the role of local and regional authorities to be taken into consideration by the EU institutions in the development of these policies over the course of the next legislature;
React to the European Commission’s communications on the Future of the EU Justice Policies and the Agenda for Home Affairs and provide input to the European Council
Reaffirming principles such as the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms, mutual trust, solidarity both within the EU and also with 3rd countries;
Touch upon the different strands of the policy areas, but place emphasis on some crucial areas for LRA such as, migration, mobility, asylum, fight against organised crime (corruption) etc
Some of the key messages of the CoR opinion can be found in the EP resolution of 2 April 2014 on the mid-term review of the Stockholm Programme (2013/2024(INI). According to the resolution, the European Parliament:
• "Notes the importance of a strengthened external dimension for European policies in the area of freedom, security and justice, and calls for cooperation with third countries to be strengthened at all levels in the areas of security, migration, fundamental rights and border management";
• "Considers that the EU should promote the highest level of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all".
In addition, the European Commission welcomed the opinion in its 60th follow-up report. In relation to the CoR position on the rights of EU citizens in other Member States the Commission admitted that EU citizens still experience practical and legal difficulties when they try to enjoy the same rights they have at home in another Member State. It therefore underlined that the EU needs to address these obstacles with determination and stressed that the right of EU citizens to move freely and live in any EU country is one of the four fundamental freedoms enshrined in EU law and a cornerstone of EU integration.
Regarding the call by the CoR for the renewal of the Action Plan (on unaccompanied minors) the Commission committed to report to the Parliament and the Member States before mid-2015 on the status of implementation of the Action Plan and if needed to make proposals for further action.
Furthermore, the Commission fully acknowledged the role of LRA in the integration of third-country nationals. It referred to the interactive map with local and regional practices that was launched in June 2013 as a permanent feature of the European Website on Integration as well as to the involvement of the CoR since 2013 in the European Integration Forum. The Commission also recognised the role LRA play in the crime prevention and in mitigating the risks of organised crime infiltration in the economy. Another element where the key role of LRA was stressed by the Commission was in ensuring information availability, accelerating EU-wide cybersecurity and monitoring its progress as well as in addressing trafficking in human beings.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
– welcomes the Commission's aim of consolidating the progress achieved in the area of justice and home affairs through correct implementation and effective monitoring, emphasising that consolidation could also take the form of additional legal instruments, that respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, to fill gaps in the present system and enable the EU to address new global challenges in a more flexible manner;
– stresses that a stronger focus on the EU's commitments with respect to fundamental rights must have a real impact at all levels and welcomes the fact that the Commission has developed a framework within which to tackle systemic threats to the rule of law in the Member States;
– urges the Commission, the Parliament and the Council to explicitly recognise local authorities and regions as full partners in these policy areas and allow them to take their share of the responsibility;
– welcomes the web-based guide being developed by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), calls on the Commission to set aside additional resources for practical tools of this kind and suggests that the FRA annual report on the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights should include information on how local and regional authorities are implementing it;
– urges the EU to further facilitate the exchange of information and best practices at all levels by means of targeted measures and programmes;
– stresses that the EU needs to work more to implement a European asylum and migration policy based on fundamental rights, solidarity, mutual trust and shared responsibility between Member States and local and regional authorities;
– urges all levels of government in the EU to share responsibility for the reception and integration of refugees, and calls for greater inter-regional cooperation, coordination and solidarity through the development of a mechanism for redistributing them between Member States, regions and local authorities taking into account structural constraints, resources and other relevant factors;
– points out that, to date, Article 80 TFEU has not been used to take measures implementing solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility with regard to mobility;
– suggests undertaking a study into how Member States, regions and local authorities interpret shared responsibility and solidarity, analysing as well how a more even distribution of asylum-seekers and refugees between all levels could be achieved;
- underlines the need for an EU-wide approach to addressing fraud and abuse.