Justice and Home Affairs in the European Union

Florian Trauner
Ariadna Ripoll Servent

Justice and home affairs (JHA) has grown into a relevant and complex field of research. It encompasses European Union (EU) policies of high political salience including asylum, migration, border control, counterterrorism, and police cooperation, as well as criminal and civil law. The processes of European integration and “communitarization” have drawn the attention of the academic community. In the 1990s, the EU’s cooperation on JHA expanded when it embarked on the objective of creating an Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice (AFSJ). It implied that the member states lifted competences that touch upon core features of the state—notably, the capacity to control the territory and to exert the use of legitimate force—to the EU level. From the outset, this was too intrusive for some member states such as the United Kingdom, which gained far-reaching “opt-out” rights. As a matter of fact, JHA encompasses a range of highly sensitive policies and has become increasingly politicized since the 2000s. Questions of security, civil liberties, and belonging are now at the forefront of the political and media agenda. There is an intense struggle over how to define identities in an increasingly diverse European society and how to distinguish “oneself” from an external “other.” Having a clear stance on these questions can determine whether governments win or lose elections. The EU’s cooperation and role in JHA are therefore interlinked with the debate over the meaning of nationhood in the interconnected world of the early 21st century. To what extent can and should European states be free to decide on issues such as immigration? JHA has also become a defining factor in the EU’s relations with the rest of the world. It is a challenge for the EU to define—and implement—immigration regimes for third-country nationals as well as to cooperate with (at times authoritarian) third countries on counterterrorism and other JHA issues. This contribution offers a summary of the main literature in the JHA field. It is important to note that there are specialized debates and discussions in some subfields of JHA (for instance, migration studies). We only touch upon these policy debates and focus on studies looking at EU JHA more generally. Our approach is to offer a description of classic literature with newer JHA research. We start by looking at books discussing the development of JHA in the EU. We then outline the main debates in JHA research (e.g., security versus liberty), followed by an analysis of the main dynamics of EU decision-making. We also reflect upon different debates in the literature on the external dimension of EU JHA policies. The contribution ends with a discussion on data sources and networking opportunities.