European Union (EU) Establishes a New Procedure in the Area of Freedom Security and Justice : The Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure : March 2008

The Court of Justice of the European Communities, the Curia in Luxembourg, has issued a press release in which it outlines the completely new Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure which started application on March 1, 2008 as a European Union procedure in the area of freedom, security and justice:

The Treaty of Amsterdam on the European Union (EU) which came into force on 1 May 1999 states that the EU:

  • must be maintained and developed as an area of freedom, security and justice;
  • (an area) in which the free movement of persons is assured;
  • in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.”

This area now covers:

  • Free movement of persons
  • Visa policy
  • EU external borders policy
  • Schengen area
  • Immigration
  • Asylum
  • Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters
  • Drugs policy coordination
  • EU citizenship
  • Data protection
  • Fundamental rights
  • Racism and xenophobia
  • Police and customs cooperation
  • Crime prevention
  • Fight against organised crime
  • External relations
  • Enlargement from a justice and home affairs perspective

Since the normal preliminary ruling procedure on such cases takes on average a year and a half, the Court of Justice, at the urging of the Council, proposed the adoption of the Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure in order to expedite urgent cases. As the Court of Justice writes:

This procedure is applicable as from 1 March 2008 and should enable the Court to deal far more quickly with the most sensitive issues relating to the area of freedom, security and justice, such as those which may arise, for example, in certain situations where a person is deprived of his liberty and the answer to the question raised is decisive as to the assessment of the legal situation of the person detained or deprived of his liberty, or, in proceedings concerning parental authority or custody of children, where the jurisdiction under Community law of the court hearing the case depends on the answer to the question referred for a preliminary ruling.

Hat tip to EU Law Blog, where there is more discussion of this development in detail, including a supplemental information note.

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