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The Stockholm Programme (“Programme”) was the jewel in the crown of the Swedish Presidency of the EU.  The Stockholm Programme sets out the EU’s legislative agenda in the area of justice and home affairs (JHA) for the years 2010-20014.  It builds on the Hague Programme which was the plan for JHA cooperation for the last five years, which, in its turn, had followed the Tampere Programme.  On November 25, 2009, the European Parliament supported the proposals by a wide majority, and the Presidency submitted the re-drafted proposals to the General Affairs Council and the European Council for approval and publication in the Official Journal of the EU.
The aim of the Stockholm Programme is to define the framework for EU police and customs cooperation, rescue services, criminal and civil cooperation, asylum, migration and visa policy. It gives strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning in the area of freedom, security and justice.
The proponents of the Programme are pleased with the finished product because it takes vigorous measures against crime while safeguarding the rights of the individual. It protects individuals’ privacy beyond national borders, especially by protecting personal data. It provides the tools to strengthen the fight against trafficking in human beings, organised crime, terrorism and other threats. It also facilitates access to Europe for business travelers, tourists, students, scientists, workers and persons in need of international protection by providing for integrated border management and appropriate visa policies. It grants rights to migrants, as well as a secure and predictable asylum process.
The Programme also has its detractors. Amnesty International expressed its disappointment about major omissions and inconsistencies, especially regarding irregular migration. Amnesty International fears that EU cooperation with certain third countries could lead to human rights violations, and that the Programme lacks any sort of provision to monitor potential abuses. The plan also fails to address the exploitation of “paperless“ migrants, according to Amnesty International, e.g. that children of parents without papers cannot attend school or receive health care.
Some people hold high hopes that the current Spanish Presidency will fill in these gaps. However, considering the difficulty of reaching multilateral consensus on these very sensitive issues, it is more probable that it will take several presidencies before the Stockholm Programme is perfected.