The Stockholm Programme sets the agenda for the European Union’s actions for the next five years in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). It is the next step towards the goal of making the EU into an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ).
Justice and Home Affairs became the third pillar of the EU after the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. Originally, it was firmly intergovernmental area of policy-making but some parts were transferred to the supranational first pillar when the treaty of Amsterdam came in to force 1999.
In the same year the EU decided it need a focused plan for cooperation in this field for the next five years; and the Tampere Programme was produced. This was followed in 2004 by the Hague Programme that ends this year, and the Stockholm Programme will lay out the next five years of JHA cooperation.
Producing the programme has been complicated due to both the sensitive nature of many of the issues covered and by doubt until recently over whether the Lisbon Treaty would be ratified. The ratification of Lisbon changes the power balance between the European Commission, Council and Parliament and this has ramifications for the JHA area.
With the success of the EU single market and the end of border controls within the EU, to stop crime within the EU, to guarantee the rights of citizens who are moving between EU member states, and to manage people from third countries who are seeking to come into the EU, requires cooperation across the Union. The Stockholm Programme seeks to lay out what path this should take.
Migration policy is an important and difficult part of the programme. How Europeanised dealing with irregular migrants and asylum seeker should be has been one of the politically difficult areas within the programme.