Justice and Home Affairs Council configuration (JHA)
The Justice and Home Affairs Council develops cooperation and common policies on various cross-border issues, with the aim of building an EU-wide area of freedom, security and justice.
How does the Justice and Home Affairs Council work?
The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council is made up of justice and home affairs ministers from all the EU member states. In general, justice ministers deal with judicial cooperation in both civil and criminal law and fundamental rights, while home affairs ministers are responsible for migration, border management and police cooperation, among other matters. However, not all EU member states have the same division of tasks between ministers. The JHA Council is also responsible for civil protection.
The JHA Council usually meets every three months.
As agreed in the EU treaties, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland do not fully participate in the implementation of certain measures relating to justice and home affairs, or their participation is subject to certain conditions.
In the areas related to the Schengen acquis, discussions take place in the mixed committee format. This format is composed of the EU member states plus the 4 non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen agreement (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland). In the case of legislative measures, after a discussion in the mixed committee adoption takes place at the JHA Council, with the exception that the UK and Ireland do not vote.
About justice and home affairs policy
The Council adopts legislation, in most cases together with the European Parliament, aimed at guaranteeing fundamental rights, ensuring the free movement of people across the EU and offering citizens a high level of protection. It is responsible for asylum and immigration policies, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, civil protection and the fight against serious and organised crime and terrorism. It also deals with issues related to Europe's borderless Schengen area.
The Council is also in charge of facilitating and strengthening coordination of member states' actions in the field of internal security. It does this by dealing with external border protection and by seeking to enhance police and customs cooperation.
Priorities of the Justice and Home Affairs Council during the Maltese Presidency
In the area of justice, the fight against terrorism and organised crime is an important priority for the Maltese presidency. The presidency will address the proposed directive on the harmonisation of the criminal offence of money laundering in the EU, as well as the proposed regulation on mutual recognition of criminal asset freezing and confiscation orders.
The presidency will continue negotiations on the revision of the current Eurojust decision, along with the proposal dealing with the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO regulation).
Regarding home affairs, the Maltese presidency will foster common European action to tackle the challenges posed by migration flows and terrorist threats.
The Maltese presidency will proceed with the implementation of the European agenda on migration. One of the priorities will be the harmonisation of the EU's asylum policy based on the proposals revising the Common European Asylum System. Particular focus will be placed on measures ensuring the effective application of the principles of solidarity and responsibility and the Dublin regulation.
The Maltese Presidency will also follow up on the new partnership framework with third countries in order to save lives in the Mediterranean, increase the rate of returns and enable migrants to stay close to home. In parallel, the presidency will continue efforts in the field of legal migration by taking forward the legislative negotiations on the revision of the blue card directive.
The reinforcement of external border management is another key issue for the Maltese presidency. In particular, the presidency aims to finalise negotiations on the proposals relating to the entry/exit system. It also intends to advance negotiations on the establishment of a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS).
The Maltese Presidency will take forward the discussion on the fight against terrorism and serious and organised crime. It will focus on the discussions related to the proposed legislative instrument on combatting fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment.