Justice affairs in the EU
EU affairs at the Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for EU projects within its mandate and seeks to influence EU legislation proactively. The objective is to ensure that Finland’s interests are served and the Ministry's strategy is implemented at EU level too.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for drafting EU legislation in the fields of civil and criminal law, personal data protection, contract law, consumer protection, company law and procedural law. The responsibility for matters related to EU fundamental rights policy, democracy and openness in the EU activities rests with the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry is also responsible for organising the elections to the European Parliament and for the related law drafting.
The Ministry of Justice prepares the national measures required to implement the obligations resulting from EU law in the area of justice in Finland. Similar work aiming to improve the quality of legislation and to develop law drafting is being carried out both in Finland and in the EU.
Information on EU legislative projects for which the Ministry of Justice is responsible for can be found in the Gateway to Information on Government Projects.
Justice affairs in the EU
According to the Treaty of the European Union, the Union constitutes an area of freedom, security and justice with respect for fundamental rights and the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States. Judicial cooperation in the Union is based on the principle of mutual recognition of judgments given by the courts and decisions issued by the judicial authorities. This principle means that decisions issued by the authorities of a Member State must be recognised and may be enforced in all other Member States.
EU legislation may also be adopted for the approximation of the national laws of the Member States, if necessary. EU activities in the area of justice focus on cross-border issues that relate, for example, to the fight against serious crime, cross-border disputes or international family law matters. The EU may only act in areas where the Member States have conferred powers upon it.
The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, Eurojust, stimulates and improves the coordination of investigations and prosecutions in order to combat and detect serious cross-border crime. Eurojust is based in The Hague.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office EPPO is an independent body of the European Union that is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU. These include fraud, bribery, money laundering and cross-border VAT fraud.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) provides expert advice to the EU and its Member States on a range of issues related to fundamental rights. The Agency is based in Vienna.
Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council
The Council of the European Union is a body representing the governments of the Member States. EU legislative projects are typically initiated by the Commission. The task of the Council is to deliberate the contents of the legislation proposed by the Commission and to adopt new EU legislation. The Council adopts new EU legislation in most cases together with the European Parliament. As a rule, the Council is to adopt its decisions by qualified majority voting.
The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council deals with justice and home affairs of the European Union and takes decisions in this area. The JHA Council is made up of justice and home affairs ministers from all the EU Member States. In justice affairs, Finland is represented in the Council by the Minister of Justice. The Council meets six to eight times a year on average.
In the JHA Council, matters are first prepared by working parties comprised of public officials from the Member States. In the area of justice, public officials from the Ministry of Justice represent Finland in the working parties.