CYPRIOT CITIZENS AND EUROPEAN UNION
Area of Freedom-Security-Justice
The meaning of freedom is undermined if not surrounded by a safe environment and a just and functional legal system. The citizens of the E.U., in order to enjoy the freedom provided in relation to traveling, work and residence anywhere within the E.U., need to live and act within a secure environment. The citizens of the E.U. should be protected from international crime, have equal access to justice and their fundamental rights should be equally respected throughout Europe.
For all the abovementioned reasons, one of the main objectives and continuous effort of the E.U. is the establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union.
Access to justice in another member state may create difficulties for individuals and firms. In order to make life easier for the persons being involved in transnational judicial matters, a closer approach and cooperation is needed between the national legal systems within the E.U.
Within the above framework, the E.U. established the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, which consists of representatives of the Member State’s judicial and administrative authorities. The main objective of the network is to make life easier for people facing litigation of whatever kind where it involves more than one Member State. Individuals and firms, and even more so the legal professions, will find the network very useful to have access to knowledge about the various national systems of civil and commercial law as well as the legislative instruments of the European Union.
Eurojust is a body of experts and specialists (prosecutors or/and judges of the Member States) that facilitate the co-ordination of investigation and prosecution of serious transnational crimes. It interferes, for example, in transnational cases investigated by Europol, for which legal advice and support is needed in different member states.
Aiming at the preservation and development of an area of freedom of movement of persons and good functioning of the internal market, judicial decisions issued in one member state and relate to civil and criminal matters, are recognized and executed in another member state.
Judicial decisions relating to divorce, separation or annulment of a marriage in one member state, are recognized and executed in all other member states. Furthermore, the courts deal with matters where one parent illegally transfers his child in another member state.
The decision in one member state to forfeiture the driving license of a person is equally recognized throughout the European Union.
Organised crime is not only a European Problem. It is an international problem. It is carried out with the use of modern methods and systems as well as throughout European and International networks.
Faced with this reality, the European Union takes precise decisions and initiatives and implements a series of measures and programmes for the harsh punishment of serious forms of international crimes, such as terrorism, money laundering and Euro counterfeiting.
MATTERS FALLING WITHING THE JURISDICTION OF THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE AND PUBLIC ORDER
The main volume of responsibilities and work carried out by the Ministry of Justice and Public Order relates to:
a) Matters of Cooperation in the Fields of Justice and Internal Affairs, aiming towards the creation of an area of real freedom, security and justice, where the citizens take full advantage of the free movement, that allows the realization of the Union and at the same time they are protected by the threats against their personal security and, in particular, matters of:
- International legal and judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, including human rights matters
- police cooperation for the prevention and combating of terrorism, illegal transport of drugs, international fraud and other forms of serious international criminology, in relation to the information exchange system, within the framework of activities of Europol.
b) Matters falling within Chapter 2 (Free Movement of Persons) and in particular matters of the transnational practice of the advocates profession.
c) Matters falling within Chapter 13 (Social Policy and Employment) and in particular of the elimination of all forms of discrimination (racism) and the promotion of the principle of equality (equality of men and women).
The European Aquis in the Field of Discrimination.
The European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law state, principles which are common to the Member States.
The protection and promotion of the fundamental rights of the European citizens and the citizens of third countries, who reside legally in the European Union, is a primary objective of the Union and characterize its policies.
At first, the action and policy of the European Union concentrated in the combating of discrimination on grounds of race and nationality, particular in the field of employment.
In the summit meeting of Amsterdam, in 1997, the commitment of the Union towards the support and protection of the fundamental rights of its citizens was strengthened with the provision to the community- by the provisions of the Treaty that was concluded to the said meeting- of the possibility to combat discrimination which was due on grounds of a large scale of discrimination reasons- racial and ethnic origin, religion and beliefs, disability, age and sexual orientation- and in fields other than employment.
Article 12 (ex article 6) of the Treaty of Establishing the European Union aimed to the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality regardless of origin from a member state or a third country. Article 13 (ex article 6A) of the Treaty Establishing the European Union enlarged this principle, by stating that “without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty and within the limits of the powers conferred by it upon the Community, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”.
In order to implement these new powers, the Council adopted the following:
- Directive 200/43/EC, prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination in employment, education, social security and healthcare, access to goods and services, including housing.
- Directive 200/78/EC, prohibiting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion and belief, disability, age and sexual orientation.
- The Community Action Programme to combat discrimination (2001-2006), for the promotion of values underlying the fight against discrimination through awareness-raising activities and good practices between member states.
- Lastly, the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) was established by a Council Regulation, which among its activities is to collect data and information at national as well as at the European level, on racism and xenophobia, the preparation of reports and publications, carrying out researches and the provision and exchange of information through the European Information Network on Racism and Xenophobia (RAXEN).