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Justice and Home Affairs

06/04/2011 // Justice and home affairs (JHA) is one of the most dynamic areas of political cooperation in the EU. Norway participates in central parts of the justice and home affairs cooperation through the Schengen and Dublin agreements and various other agreements. Norway also participates in the JHA cooperation through the EEA agreement, specifically through the Civil Protection Mechanism. Measures under the EEA agreement also include cooperation on preparedness, critical infrastructure, use of explosives, transport security and product safety.

EU justice and home affairs policy was formalised and institutionalised through the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties in the 1990s. The Schengen cooperation is a central part of JHA. With the Amsterdam treaty entering into force in 1999, the Schengen agreement became a part of EU legislation. The purpose of the agreement is to abolish internal border control between the signatories and strengthen the cooperation on external border control.  Consequently the signatories have to have common rules on external border control and granting of visa. The agreement also establishes a common database of wanted persons and other forms of police cooperation. There are two main underlying reasons for these cooperative measures. Firstly, the Schengen agreement accommodates freedom of movement for goods and persons. Secondly, the agreement is a symbol of solidarity in Europe. Norway has been participating in Schengen since 2000, following a joint agreement between Norway, Iceland and the EU.

Criminal and procedural law
EU has developed a comprehensive body of common rules in the area of criminal and procedural law; among these are information transparency and mutual assistance in criminal cases. Norway is connected to parts of this body of rules through Schengen, and has also signed agreements on surrender of criminals (extradition), mutual legal assistance and on participation in the so called Prüm-decision. EU rules make it an obligation for member states to punish serious forms of criminality as acts of terror, trafficking and child pornography. These obligations do not apply to Norway as they do not fall under the Schengen, EEA or other agreements between the EU and Norway. Still, the development of EU law in these areas is of high political significance to Norway.

Europol and Eurojust
There have been established several institutions to make the cooperation on JHA matters effective. Among these are Europol for the police and Eurojust for prosecutors. Norway takes part in these institutions through cooperation agreements. In addition, Norway has an agreement with Cepol, the police training institution and full membership,  and through Schengen Norway is part of the border control agency Frontex.

Asylum and migration 
Norway has a close cooperation with the EU on asylum and migration. As a consequence of the Schengen association, Norway participates in the Dublin system which determines the State responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a Member State or an associated State.

Civil law
EU cooperation on civil law is an increasingly important part of EU policy making. The EU has for example established common rules on the choice of applicable law, where a court case should be raised, as well as mutual recognition of rulings between member states. Civil law is outside the competencies of the EEA and Schengen agreement, but there are certain measures that are mutual between EU and Norway through the Lugano Convention of 2007. Norway wishes to establish closer ties with the EU on this area.

Competence of the Ministry of Justice
There are also other areas of the EEA agreement that falls under the competencies of the Norwegian Ministry of Justice. These are most prominently contract law, sales law, company law, transport law, insurance law and intellectual property law (patent law). Privacy and some areas of administrative law also fall under this category.

For more information, please contact the Mission of Norway to the EU, Counsellors for Justice and Home Affairs:
Hanne Messel, hame@mfa.no, ph: + 32 (0) 2 238 74 58 (Justice)
Joakim Tranvåg Øren, jtor@mfa.no, ph: Tlf.: +32 (0) 2 238 74 39 (Justice)
Magne Holter, mhol@mfa.no, ph Tlf.: +32 (0) 2 238 74 32 (Migration)  


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