EU External Action in the JHA Domain: A Legal Perspective

EUI Working Papers LAW No. 2008/24

37 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2008

See all articles by Marise Cremona

Marise Cremona

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: October 2008


Since the Conclusions of the European Council on the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) at Tampere in 1999 the Union has recognised the significance of the external dimension to this policy field, and over the last decade the Union's activity in this field has both intensified and broadened to include not only migration, border management and asylum but all aspects of the AFSJ, ranging from counter-terrorism to civil procedure. Although the scope of external action reflects the fragmentation of the subject matter and the AFSJ lacks an easily identifiable policy objective, there are ways in which we can identify certain common elements in the approach to external AFSJ policy, in particular in managing the relationship between different actors. This paper seeks to explore some of these distinctive elements; its purpose is to set out some of the particular legal features of external AFSJ policy. First, to examine the basis for and the scope of external competence given that there is no explicit provision in the EC Treaty for external action in the field. Second, the legal implications of the inter-pillar nature of the AFSJ: the consequences this has for the types of instrument available to the Union and the legal constraints imposed by the need to 'police' the boundary. And finally the paper explores the relationship between Union / Community action and Member State action: the possibility of exclusive Community competence, the mechanisms developed to manage shared competence and the additional complexity created by the varying 'opt-outs' for some Member States.

Keywords: European law, Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, international agreements, Treaty reform

Suggested Citation

Cremona, Marise, EU External Action in the JHA Domain: A Legal Perspective (October 2008). EUI Working Papers LAW No. 2008/24, Available at SSRN: or

Marise Cremona (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze

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