International cooperation

Strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning within the area of freedom, security and justice

In accordance with Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union one of the EU objectives consists in providing the EU citizens with an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime. Consequently, the European Union shares the competences with the Member States in this respect, while undertaking, among others, actions targeted at provision of high security level. For this purpose adequate institutional structures have been established within the EU and a number of legal measures have been adopted to govern the cooperation among the Member States in the internal security.

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the issue of forming the strategic framework
 in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice has been settled in Article 68 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union where the European Council lays down the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning within the area of freedom, security and justice. Previously, the cooperation avenues in the area of internal security were laid down in the multiannual strategic programmes (Tampere Programme, Hague Programme, Stockholm Programme).

During its meeting held on 26–27 June 2014 the European Council adopted the Conclusions concerning the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning within the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ). The guidelines represent the result of more than one-year long Member State’s work supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The strategic guidelines give an impetus for further development of AFSJ through establishment of rules and horizontal objectives which should lay behind the further EU integration in this area. In accordance
with the expectations of the Member States the central idea of the strategic guidelines consists in focusing further actions on a consistent transposition and effective implementation of the existing legislation as well as consolidation of the current acquis. Furthermore, practical cooperation among the relevant authorities of the Member States is to be intensified with full use of the existing instruments.

The strategic guidelines pinpoint the importance of synergy among various EU policies and of the enhanced relationships between their internal and external dimensions. In the context of further AFSJ development, particular significance is attached to the proper location of the basic rights.

The specific sectoral priorities in the area of internal affairs
have been broken down into the following areas:

  • Asylum and Migration Policy,
  • management of the EU's external borders,  
  • EU internal security.

As for the asylum and migration policy the strategic guidelines specify that an effective and well managed policy should be ensured in this area based on the Treaty principles of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility. The full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the use of the European Asylum Support Office potential are considered an absolute priority.

As for the next sectoral area the strategic guidelines emphasise the need for mobilisation of all the tools available at the EU level to support the Member States
in the efficient management of the EU’s common external borders.    

In the security area the overall objective consists in preventing and combating serious and organised crime, including human trafficking, as well as corruption. At the same time, an effective EU counter terrorism policy was emphasised which would integrate the internal and external aspects of the fight against terrorism. The strategic guidelines call for, among other things, the reviewing and updating the internal security strategy of the EU and further development of comprehensive approach to cybersecurity and cybercrime. 



Asylum and migration policy


EU asylum policy is one of the most effectively developing areas of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ). The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is one of its pillars. The first phase of CEAS development (1999–2004) aimed at harmonising the legal framework applicable in the Member States in the area of asylum, based on the common minimum standards. The second phase (2009–2013) aimed at establishing common asylum procedure and a uniform protection status. The proposals of new legal acts have been complemented with the initiatives related to practical cooperation, solidarity and external dimension of asylum and migration The Common European Asylum System is governed by five legal acts: Reception Conditions Directive, Asylum Procedures Directive, Qualification Directive and Dublin Convention (determination of the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application) and Eurodac (a system for comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention). At present, implementation to the national legislation is underway.

Legal migration

As opposed to irregular migration, the legal migration consists in that the entry on and residence within the territory of a given country of a foreign national are legitimate, and the foreign national has all documents needed for regularisation of his/her stay. The conditions for entry, residence and employment are strictly determined by the legislation. Therefore, this type of migration includes the issues associated with the regularisation of residence, labour migration, as well as the problems of the foreign nationals’ integration with the host community.

The legal migration belongs to the migration policy area which is subject to largest extent to the Member States’ regulations. The Member States take decisions on the scope of rights granted , e.g. to the foreign workers, and on the criteria of their residence. In order to efficiently address the demographic crisis in the European Union and to compensate for the lack of sufficient labour, a decision was taken at the European level to establish EU common procedures in front of the legal migrants, which would contribute to an increased attractiveness of the European Union as a destination place for residence and employment (permanent or seasonal). Furthermore, the promotion and development of legal migration are now considered
the most efficient instruments of combatting the irregular migration, which will enhance the European Union’s security.

At present, in the relevant fora of the European Council and European Parliament work is carried out on the draft directive which would regulate the conditions for entry and residence of the third countries’ nationals who wish to conduct scientific research, study, participate in pupil exchange, in unremunerable or remunerable training, voluntary services, or undertake au-pair employment.

Fighting irregular migration;

At present, work is carried out to prepare an efficient response to the migratory pressure at the EU’s external borders, in particular in the Mediterranean Sea basin. A scenario has been established for actions that must be currently undertaken and which address the migration/asylum crisis in the southern Europe in connection with the political situation in North Africa and Syria - the scenario has been included in the document entitled “EU Action on Migratory Pressures – a Strategic Response”. In 2013, the Task Force Mediterranean was additionally set up to start and coordinate actions aimed at addressing irregular migration in the region and the accompanying phenomena such as organized crime, including trafficking in human beings and smuggling.

Irregular migration cannot be fully controlled and the number of irregular migrants residing in the EU or a Member State may only be roughly estimated. This is a phenomenon which also threatens the internal security of the EU citizens as it is linked with other dangerous phenomena, such as organized crime, trafficking in human beings and terrorism. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure that the actions aimed at fighting against irregular migration and other related practices are coherent and common to the EU as a whole. 

Global Approach to Migration (GAM)

Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) is an initiative implementing the external dimension of EU policies towards the migration and asylum issues. It provides the basic and most important framework for the EU dialogue and cooperation with the third countries in the area of the a.m. issues.

GAMM covers four thematic areas: 1) legal migration and mobility, 2) irregular migration and fight against trafficking in human beings, 3) promoting international protection and enhancing the external dimension of the EU asylum policy, 4) mutual impact of the migration and development policies. GAMM combines the political cooperation with its practical dimension. GAMM acts as a framework for all external political processes and bilateral dialogues. This also concerns the migration related processes and dialogues of key importance for Poland in its relationships with the East European countries, such as Eastern Partnership Prague Process.

Under GAMM, the Mobility Partnerships are the basic instrument of practical cooperation. Until now, the Mobility Partnerships have been concluded with Moldova, Cape Verde, Georgia, Armenia, Morocco, Azerbaijan and Tunisia. Poland is a party to all Partnerships concluded with the Eastern Partnership countries , while the Partnership with Tunisia is the first one concluded by Poland with a country of Mediterranean region.

European Migration Network

The European Migration Network (EMN) was established pursuant to the council Decision 2008/381/EC of 14 May 2008. Its main objective is to provide the EU institutions and MS authorities and institutions with up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on migration and asylum issues. The information is intended as a starting point for the policy makers and experts at the national and European level to help them understand better the current challenges in the area of migration, including in particular support for the European Commission in decision making on the need for further actions at the European level.

Information disseminated through the EMN are also intended to raise awareness of the public on the issues associated with migration and asylum.

National Contact Point of the European Migration Network (NCP EMN) has been established in the Ministry of Interior.




Phone No: (+48 22) 601 39 42; 601 39 83; 601 39 51

fax No: +48 22 601 54 62

EMN website:


Combating organized crime and terrorism

Fight against organised crime:

The European Union places strong emphasis on common actions in the area of combating organised crime. In this respect the key areas of commitment include the following: cooperation in the area of recovery of the proceeds of crime, combating cybercrime, trafficking in human beings, illegal arms trade, forgery of money, counterfeiting of goods, corruption, drug-related crime, as well as financial crime.

EU Security Policy Cycle

Since 2011 an EU Security Policy Cycle has been implemented for serious and organized international crime. This mechanism is intended to identify priorities in the area of combating threats to internal security in the long-term as well as specific actions to be implemented on the annual basis. In 2014, the implementation of four-year EU Security Policy Cycle commenced with 2014–2017 priorities given to the fight against serious and organised crime. Nine cycle priorities implemented at the European Union forum include the following: irregular migration, trafficking in human beings, production and trade in synthetic drugs, trade in cocaine and heroin, cybercrime, tax and excise fraud, counterfeiting of goods, offences against property, illegal arms trade, as well as cross-cutting areas of serious and organised crime, such as recovery of the proceeds of crime, money laundering, and corruption combating.

The implemented actions take into account commitment of the law enforcement authorities of the EU member States, competent EU institutions and agencies, i.e. European Police Office (Europol), European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex), European Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF), European Police College (CEPOL), and European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drugs Addiction (EMCDDA).

Fight against drug-related crime

The scope of activities under the ant-drug policy has been laid down in the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 covering both the drug demand and supply issues. The Council of the European Union also adopted the strategic documents concerning particular types of drugs which identify the priorities for the EU Member States and institutions as well as EU agencies in the areas of drug accessibility restriction and common response to the identified challenges.

During the Polish Presidency the Council of the European Union adopted the European Pact against synthetic drugs which describes in a comprehensive and holistic manner the approach to synthetic drug supply restriction, including the new psychotropic substances, referred to as “legal highs”, and drug precursors. Activities undertaken under the EU Security Policy Cycle represent another important aspect of drug supply restriction.

Dialogues on drug-related activities are permanently carried out on the European Union forum in relations with the countries and regions outside the EU, such as USA, Russia, Latin American or Eastern Partnership countries.

The drugs present a permanent serious risk at the global scale both in the context of threat to life and health of people who use them and in terms of criminal activities linked to drug production and trade. The drug-related crime has no limits and is present worldwide.

The targeted and consistent action may help reduce the scale of risk and protect the health and life of citizens.

Prevention of and fight against terrorism

Terrorism should be regarded as one of the biggest threats for the security, stability, democracy and fundamental rights. Therefore, it is important to intensify the activities which enhance the efficiency of fight against terrorism as they ensure the citizen’s fundament right of living in a safe environment. Therefore,the European Union undertakes a number of activities to curb the terrorist activities both in relation to the terrorist organisations and individuals (so-called lone wolves).

The EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted by the European Council in 2005, is one of the most important documents concerning the fight against terrorism. The strategy consists of four pillars: prevention, protection, prosecution and response. In 2005, the European Council also adopted a document entitled “The EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism”.

Cooperation in the area of prevention of and fight against terrorism remains a priority for the EU, therefore, it is developed at several levels, i.e. at the transatlantic, Union, regional and national levels. In spite of such approach new challenges keep emerging. The cross-border nature of terrorism and growing role of the Internet and IT tools in the communication and activities of the terrorists compel the EU Member States to improve the existing methods of operation and to developed new ones. 


Borders and visas

Schengen area

The Schengen area is an area where the border checks have been abolished at internal borders between Member States and where strictly defined uniform rules are applied regarding: external border control, visa’s format issued to aliens, mutual cooperation between the services of signatory states, in particular in terms of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and functioning of the Schengen Information System.

The creation of Schengen area is one of the most important achievements of the European Union. The area without borders is based on mutual confidence of the Member States in their capacity to fully implement the compensatory measures accompanying the abolition of internal border control. Although the Schengen area is based on a number of strict and complex rules, it is a good example of close cooperation and solidarity between the Member States. Thus, it responds to both challenges and expectations of EU citizens.

The Schengen area includes 22 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Hungary, Italy and associated countries: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. The United Kingdom and Ireland – the Member States of the European Union, which remain outside the Schengen area and therefore have not abolished the internal border control, have special status but they can apply certain provisions regarding police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. In contrast, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania are applying for membership in Schengen.

External borders may be crossed only at border crossing points at fixed opening hours. Crossing the external border, the EU citizens and other persons enjoying the right of free movement of persons within the EU (for example the family members of the EU citizen) are subject to minimum check. The minimum check aims at establishing their identities on the basis of presentation of travel documents and consists of rapid and straightforward verification of the validity of documents and of the presence of signs of falsification or counterfeiting.

Local border traffic

For border zone residents, who need to frequently cross the external borders of the EU the local border traffic regime was established, which constitutes a derogation from the general rules set out in the Schengen Borders Code. It allows Member States to conclude bilateral agreements with neighbouring non-EU countries, so that border zone residents can cross borders and move in the designated areas without having to apply for a Schengen visa. The last amendment to the regulations in this regard was adopted in December 2011 and concerned applying the local border traffic regime to the entire Kaliningrad oblast of the Russian Federation and an adequate (bigger than in regular cases) area on the Polish side.

Poland signed agreements regulating local border traffic regime with Ukraine, Belarus (expected to enter into force) and Russia.


Information systems in the external border management

SIS – Schengen Information System II

The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a common electronic database on persons and property sought by the services of the Member States. This system ensures exchange of information between border services, services responsible for issuing visas and other bodies in charge of security.

The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) began operation on
 9 April 2013.

SIS II provides information on people who have no right to enter the Schengen area or to stay in it and on people wanted in connection with criminal activity. The system also contains information on missing persons, especially children or other most vulnerable people, who need to be protected. It also records data on some objects, for example cars, firearms, vessels and identity documents that may have been lost or stolen or used to commit a crime.


Visa Information System (VIS) is a system for the exchange of visa data between Member States and allows the national authorities authorised for this purpose to enter and update visa data and to consult these data electronically.

The aim of VIS is better implementation of the common visa policy and increasing the internal security and combating terrorism under clearly defined and monitored circumstances, inter alia, by: simplifying the procedures for handling visa applications, facilitating checks at external border crossing points of Member States and within territories of Schengen Member States as well as assisting in the identification of any person who may not fulfil the conditions for entry, stay or residence on the territory of the Member States.


EUROSUR system constitutes common framework for the exchange of information and for cooperation between Member States and Frontex aimed at increasing awareness of the situation and reaction capabilities at the external borders for detecting and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime and preventing them and therefore for protecting and saving lives of migrants. It applies to the surveillance of land and sea external borders (on a voluntary basis also to the surveillance of air borders), including monitoring, detecting, identifying, tracking, intercepting persons illegally crossing the border and preventing this phenomenon.


Civil protection

One of the EU’ major challenges is to support and complement actions at national, regional and local level in preventing and responding to natural or manmade disasters. In particular, the EU actions aim at supporting operational cooperation of national civil protection services within the EU territory and strengthening coherence of international actions.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism established by the Council Decision of October 2001 is the fundamental instrument of civil protection at EU level and can be activated in emergency situations (floods, earthquakes, technical failures etc.). The activation of the Mechanism is triggered by a request for assistance sent by the affected state. If the emergency concerns one of 31 countries participating in the Mechanism (28 EU Member States and Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway), the affected country may ask for assistance using the 24/7 Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS).

The main objective of establishing the Mechanism was the need to strengthen cooperation between Member States during the relief operations in response to natural and manmade disasters. The Mechanism facilitates the mobilisation of intervention teams, experts and other resources, and improves the coordination of activities, thereby reducing loss of human life, injury, material damage, economic and environmental damage as well as seeks solidarity and social cohesion. It can be used within the EU territory or outside its borders.

The Mechanism is based on the EU structure consisting of operational centre operating 24/7 i.e. Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), European Emergency Response Centre (EERC) in the form of a voluntary pool of previously reported capacity of Member States, trained experts, Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) managed by the Commission and contact points in Member States.


Free movement of persons: fundamental rights and EU citizenship

Free movement of persons (FMOP) as one of the four fundamental freedoms constitutes a fundamental right conferred on EU citizens by the Treaties. This principle is cornerstone of European integration and represents an enormous enrichment of personal freedoms of citizens and societies. In addition, the free movement of persons is seen as one of those rights that EU citizens value most. EU citizenship confers on every EU citizen the right of free movement and residence within the territory of Member States, therefore every EU citizen is entitled to travel within the EU and live, study, work, set up a business in another Member State. The EU’s objective is that the principle of free movement of persons functions in simple and effective manner on its territory.

The rules implementing free movement of persons are regulated by Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (...).

It should be pointed out that the right to move and reside freely is automatically granted to the family members of a EU citizen who do not have EU citizenship, irrespective of their nationality. The directive also lays down the conditions for retention of the right of residence in the host Member State by the family member of a EU citizen in the event of his death, departure, divorce, marriage annulment or termination of registered partnership.

Fundamental rights and rights derived from EU citizenship are the foundation
 and priority of the European Union and Member States. These rights are exercised through the idea of Europe without barriers, free of prejudice, intolerance and discrimination. In addition, the European Union aims at increasing the influence of citizens on the decisions taken in Brussels, an example of which may be the citizen’s initiative launched on 1 April 2012:


EU agencies in home affairs

FRONTEX: European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders

European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders is responsible for coordination of operational cooperation between EU Member States. The Agency, in cooperation with relevant services of the Member States, takes actions in the Member States that are faced with a sudden and exceptional pressure on their sections of EU external borders and provide support for Member States (ex. through joint operations) in terms of managing the migratory flows at the external borders.

Frontex is the only EU agency that has its seat in Warsaw, Poland.

Link to the agency’s website

EASO: European Asylum Support Office

The task of European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is to strengthen practical cooperation in the EU Member States on asylum matters, to support EU countries, whose asylum systems are under particular pressure and to improve the implementation of Common European Asylum System.

In practice EASO is responsible for facilitating the exchange of information as well as identifying
and collecting the best practices in the field. In particular, EASO is responsible for activities related to gathering information about country of origin of asylum seekers as well as for preparing analyses and reports on the countries of origin. In addition, EASO supports relocation within the EU of beneficiaries of international protection, provides support in terms of trainings of officials from EU Members States involved in asylum procedures as well as supports practical implementation of external dimension of asylum.

As part of supporting the Member States under the particular pressure EASO has the ability to establish the so-called asylum support team i.e. groups of experts from different Member States who, for a limited time, are delegated by EASO to the Member State being in difficult migration situation. These teams provide technical assistance, for example interpreter, information on countries of origin and knowledge of the handling and management of asylum cases.  

The seat of EASO: La Valetta, Malta.

Link to the agency’s website

EUROPOL: European Police Office

European Police Office was established in order to support EU Member States in preventing and combating organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious international crime. The agency supports the competent law enforcement authorities, inter alia, by facilitating the exchange of information (including personal data), assisting in investigations and providing expertise and technical support. Europol performs its tasks, in particular, by preparing and sharing with the Member States threat assessments, strategic analyses and general situation reports relating to its objectives, including organised crime threat assessments. 

The seat of Europol: The Hague, the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Link to the agency’s website

CEPOL: European Police College

European Police College is a European Union agency, whose activity concentrates on providing support in training of senior police officers of Member States in order to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies in preventing and combating crime, maintaining order and public security, especially in cross-border dimension. The aim of agency is to raise awareness about both national police systems and structures and cross-border police cooperation under the EU as well as about international and EU instruments aimed at strengthening cooperation between the relevant law enforcement agencies of Member States in combating organised crime and ensuring the appropriate level of training in regard to compliance with democratic standards. 

Every year the agency organises courses, trainings, seminars and conferences (also on-line) for police officers which are aimed, in particular, at the most severe threat of organised crime in the European Union.

The seat of CEPOL: Budapest, Hungary.

Link to the agency’s website

EU-LISA: European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems

European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice was established for the operational management of the IT systems supporting the maintenance of the EU internal security.

EU-LISA focuses on supporting EU countries in their efforts to use technology for ensuring security in Europe. Its activity is based on respect for fundamental rights of citizens and compliance with the most restrictive standards for security and data protection. The Agency became operational in December 2012.

The seat of EU-LISA: Tallinn, Estonia (headquarters) and Strasbourg, France.

Link to the agency’s website  

FRA: Agency for Fundamental Rights

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) became operational on 1 March 2007. The Agency was established on the basis of European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.

The aim of FRA is to provide EU institutions and Members States with assistance and expertise on fundamental rights when they implement EU law.

The main tasks of FRA, apart from combating racism and xenophobia, include:

  • gathering and analysing objective, reliable and comparable data on the fundamental rights, inter alia, by using in the FRA activity the reports prepared by the Member States, EU institutions, non-governmental organisations of national and international scope;
  • publication of annual reports on the compliance with fundamental rights, with particular emphasis on good practice;
  • creating cooperation network between different entities responsible for fundamental rights protection that covers: government administration, national and international non-governmental organisations (NGO), social partners and research centres;
  • developing communication strategy in order to raise awareness of the society and preparing educational materials.

The seat of FRA: Vienna, Austria.

Link to the agency’s website



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