At the informal meeting of EU ministers in Dresden, Germany’s federal minister of the interior, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, presented a plan to convene a high-level advisory group made up of the vice president of the European Commission, the six interior ministers of the current and upcoming trio presidencies (Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, as well as France, the Czech Republic and Sweden) and research experts from individual Member States as needed.
According to the plan, the group is to draft recommendations for European home affairs policy starting in 2010, after the Hague Programme ends, and for options to increase the Council’s efficiency and to improve or simplify existing EU regulations. In addition, the group is intended to address the issue of cooperation at EU level, i.e., in which fields would greater cooperation be beneficial, and in which fields should more discretion be given to the Member States. In this way, European home affairs policy is to become more efficient, understandable and responsive to public needs. However, the high-level group is not intended to address issues of primary law, decision-making or other matters that might affect the further treatment of the EU Constitutional Treaty. The group’s report is to provide recommendations and a basis for the formal consultations and negotiations for the programme to follow the Hague Programme after 2009.
Federal Minister Schäuble stated,
“We want to provide impetus for the future of European home affairs policy. The Hague Programme expires at the end of 2009. Then we will need a new programme to examine and set the priorities of European home affairs policy in view of new challenges. We would like to initiate this discussion during the German Presidency. In 2007 and 2008, we will have the opportunity to debate the future orientation of European home affairs policy ahead of the negotiations on the new multi-annual programme.
“The group will include the vice president of the European Commission, Franco Frattini, and the interior ministers of the two trio presidencies starting in the first half of 2007 and extending through the end of 2009. This will allow us to use the new trio presidency format to increase continuity between subsequent presidencies. Drawing on additional experts is intended to extend the framework of the debate as far as possible. Further, the greatest possible degree of transparency must be achieved. Each Member State is invited to submit input to the group. The group is to present its report in autumn 2008, so that there will be sufficient time to incorporate its reflections into the formal discussion process for the successor to the Hague Programme.”
Since 2004, the Hague Programme on strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union has defined the aims and guidelines for European home affairs policy. The Hague Programme expires at the end of 2009.