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 Slovak presidency
In the second half of 2016 the Justice and Home Affairs Council will focus on the different aspects of the migration crisis. These include new legislation on asylum and legal migration, restoring the functioning of the Schengen area and protecting external borders. It will also work on the existing proposals for visa liberalisation.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council will continue working on fighting terrorism, with specific emphasis on the exchange of information between member states, the fight against terrorist financing and the prevention of radicalisation.
In the Justice area, ministers will continue working on the proposal for a European public prosecutors office. They will also devote attention to the proposed directives on the supply of digital content and the online sales of goods, which are part of the plan to create a digital single market for Europe.