The Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties
The sector of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) of the European Union (EU) establishes the cooperation between the 27 Member-States in the field of justice and internal security.
The Maastrict Treaty or the Treaty on European Union (TEU),
which came into force on the 1st
of November 1993, refers to the establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice
. This treaty led to the creation which commonly referred to as the pillar structure of the European Union
. The issues of justice and internal security were included in the third pillar of the EU under the VI title of the TEU and promote the police cooperation, customs authorities cooperation, immigration services and judicial authorities cooperation of the Member -States.
The creation of a common area of freedom, security and justice has been asserted as an aim of the European Union in the Amsterdam Treaty which came into force on the 1st of May 1999. As regards judicial cooperation, the aim is to ensure that cross-border crimes are dealt with efficiency and that individuals have their rights guaranteed equally, no matter under which Member State's jurisdiction their case is being heard in, whether they are suspects, accused or victims.
The Amsterdam Treaty provides for new legal instruments which are legally binding for Member-Stateswhich may have to transpose them, but do not need ratification. The changes in the legal framework have substantially helped to improve the efficiency of the European Union action in this field.
In October 1999, the European Council held a special meeting in Tampere (Finland) which for the first time, was exclusively devoted to issues of justice and home affairs. There, Member- States reaffirmed their commitment to place the development of the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice at the very top of the political agenda.
The European Council of Tampere asserted that mutual recognition should become the cornerstone of judicial cooperation both in civil and in criminal matters. The functioning of the European judicial area could be undermined by differences between national criminal legislation. Approximation of legislation is needed to avoid criminals using differences between national legislations to operate from one EU country toward others, to give EU citizen a common sense of justice, and to facilitate mutual recognition.
Also legal texts have been adopted or are being negotiated in order to adopt common definitions and to harmonize the level of sanctions regarding: international trafficking (such as trafficking in Human being, illegal immigration, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography), terrorism, financial crime (in particular money laundering, corruption, or fraud using non cash means of payments), cyber crime, environmental crime or racism and xenophobia.
THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, TRANSPARENCY AND HUMAN RIGHTS