Justice and Home Affairs

Since 25 March 2001, Norway and the other Nordic countries have been full members of the Schengen co-operation. This means that the free movement of persons has been introduced throughout all EU countries except the United Kingdom and Ireland and in addition in Iceland and Norway. Internal border controls have been abolished. The Schengen countries now have a common external border. They also have harmonised rules for entry (visitors’ visa) for third country nationals.

To ensure that these arrangements do not result in a rise in crime, the Schengen system provides for “compensatory measures”. The most important of these is the Schengen Information System (SIS). This is a database accessible to authorised persons within the police/border guards and also to some extent at embassies/immigration offices. The SIS contains information about wanted criminals and suspects (for extradition purposes), third country nationals who are to be refused entry to the Schengen Area, missing persons and persons/vehicles for the purposes of discreet surveillance, and more importantly, about stolen and missing objects (vehicles, firearms, bank notes etc.). The purpose of the SIS is to enhance police cooperation. It does not link existing police information databases. The Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority (JSA) ensures compliance with data protection rules. The Norwegian Data Protection Directorate participates in the work of the JSA.

Once a person is inside the Schengen area, (s)he is free to move around wherever (s)he wants. It is therefore vital that checks and controls at the Schengen’s external frontiers are rigorous enough to stop illegal immigration, drug smuggling and other unlawful activities. In order to reinforce efforts to combat serious organised crossborder crime, Norway signed a co-operation agreement with the European Police Office (Europol) in June 2001. In spring 2002, Norway was the first third country to send a liaison officer to Europol in The Hague, The Netherlands.

In an area of free movement of persons, it is also important to have rules on which country shall be responsible for examining an asylum application. This must be done so as to avoid situations where refugees are shuttled from one State to another, with none accepting responsibility. Such rules can also prevent multiple or simultaneous asylum applications (“visa-shopping”). In February 2003, the EU Council of Ministers adopted the Dublin II Regulation which established a series of criteria which, in general, allocate responsibility for examining an asylum application to the Member State that permitted the applicant to enter or to reside on its territory. The Dublin II Regulation replaced an earlier Convention (the Dublin Convention), which Norway was party to. Therefore, Norway negotiated an agreement with the EU having the effect of extending the rights and obligations in the Regulation to its territory. Norway is also party to the Eurodac-system og

In order to simply the practical judicial cooperation in criminal matters in Europe, Norway and it’s Schengen partner Iceland on 17 December 2003 signed an agreement with the EU to apply a Conventions developed by the EU on mutual legal assistance. The agreement implies that the two countries will apply the 2000 Convention and its additional protocol from 2001.

In the automn 2001, the Council (of the European Union) decided that the Commission proposal on a framework decision on a European Arrest Warrant was not to be be considered “Schengen-relevant”, Iceland and Norway were offered to start negotiations on how to associate Norway and Iceland with “the mechanism a European Arrest Warrant”. The negotiations started in spring 2003.

One of the prime objectives of European integration is to create a large European economic market. Eliminating internal frontiers is intended to allow goods, capital and services to move about and be exchanged freely. However, the fourth freedom, the free movement of persons, gave rise to various problems, which involved the internal security of the various states. The Schengen system was first established in the 1980s, and it was originally developed outside the EU. In 1997, it was integrated into the European Union with the Amsterdam treaty.

In the middle of the 1950s, the Nordic countries had established a passport union. In order to preserve and expand this system, all the Nordic countries applied to participate in the Schengen co-operation in 1985. The integration of Schengen into the European Union made it necessary for Norway and Iceland, as non-EU members, to negotiate a new agreement. On 18 May 1999, Norway and Iceland signed an agreement with the EU providing for their “participation in the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis”. A special institutional arrangement (Comix) was set up to permit Norway and Iceland to participate at all levels, including political (Council), in the work of developing and maintaining the Schengen system.

The EU goal in the area of justice and home affairs (JHA) is to develop an area of “freedom, security and justice”. Since the Amsterdam treaty entered into force in 1999, this has been a very dynamic area of European integration. The Schengen system is presently the most concrete and visible part of this cooperation. However, most of the recent development in the field of justice and home affairs fall outside the areas covered by the Norwegian association agreement with Schengen, ie. not considered “Schengen relevant”.

From 1 May 2004, 10 new countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Cyprus and Sloveniabecame members of the EU. The ten acceding states will not automatically be full – operational – members of the Schengen cooperation. Membership of the Schengen cooperation is a process in two steps. During the accession negotiations the acceding states accepted the Schengen acquis. For the internal border controls to be lifted there has to be a separate verification and Council decision. This is similar to what happend when the Nordic countries became full members of Schengen. Furthermore, the present SIS-database has limited capacity. A new system, SIS II, should be in place by 2007

Anne Marie Borgvad

Oppdatert 08/10/04


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Justus Lipsius, Council of the European UnionPAB

Justus LipsiusPAB