Policy Areas

The Hague Programme – important implications for Norway.

 Date:09/11/2004

At its meeting in Brussels on 5 November, the European Council endorsed the Hague Programme. This programme for strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union builds on the acievements of the Tampere programme (1999 – 2004) and takes up new challenges to be faced for the coming five years

The Hague Programme covers many areas that are important for Norway. In the area of asylum and migration policy, the development of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) involves cooperation on a number of practical questions where Norway takes actively part. The follow up of the Dublin regulation and the handling of the EURODAC register is an important example. Development of a common asylum procedure will also be important to follow with reference to its possible implications for Norway’s own procedures.

Integration of immigrants is a high priority in the programme. Common basic principles underlying a European framwork for integration will be established. An approach involving stakeholders at the local, regional, national, and EU level will be important. To this end, Norway’s Minister of Local Government and Labour, Ms. Erna Solberg, takes part in a Ministerial Integration Policy Conference in Groningen, during the days 9 – 11 November.

The external dimension of asylum and migration policies will be important in the years to come, where partnership with regions of origin for migration and regions of transit will be given high priority. In this context, return and readmission policy will be developed.

The Schengen cooperation, where Norway is taking fully part, takes on a new dimension with the new EU member states and with the recent accession of Switzerland to this cooperation. These states aim at being full members of the Schengen cooperation as soon as possible. Provided they fullfil all the requirements to apply the Schengen acquis, they will become members of this cooperation when the new Schengen Information System (SIS II) in operational in 2007. A border control Agency has been established, and will become operational after 1 May 2005. Norway will take actively part in the work of this agency.

To enhance security standards in border management and in visa policy great efforts will be made to build information systems capable of handling the vast amount of information required in a secure way. SIS II, VIS (Visa Information System), and Eurodac (a key element in implementing the Dublin regulation) are three large information systems which will require attention, with large investments and compatibility studies which also involve Norwegian authorities. Security standards in travel documents will be enhanced, with the gradual introduction of two biometric identifiers in passports. By 2007, the VIS will also be built to handle biometric data. These measures represent large efforts and costs, also for Norway as member of the Schengen cooperation. Common Consular Instructions and consular cooperation for handling of visa applications will be increasingly important in this context as well.

EU cooperation on information exchange, anti-terrorism measures, and other police and judicial cooperation will in some cases be relevant to the Schengen cooperation. Norway has a role to play as part of the dialogue when the relevance of these measures are being clarified, and subsequently when they are being implemented.


 

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