The removal of internal border controls, the creation of a common market and the establishment of the four freedoms of movement as a key principle
for the functioning of the EU raised the issues of concurrent reduction and overcoming of the security risks it entails and creation of an area of
justice, freedom and security. Within that area, the ultimate goal is to achieve a high and equal level of security and protection of the rights and freedoms
of the citizens, no matter in which Member State they are located, which entails the need for greater harmonization between the Member States and involvement of the EU institutions, as well as the justification of the regulation of several aspects with legal acts at EU level.
In this context, the area of justice, freedom and security comprises the policies related to the control and protection of the EU external borders, visa policy, police and customs cooperation, fight against terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking, judicial cooperation in the areas of civil and criminal matters, migration and asylum policies and prevention of euro counterfeiting. Within the EU accession process, the obligations related to the area of justice, freedom and security are defined in Chapter 24. During the accession negotiations, each candidate country has an obligation to fully comply with the European acquis in this chapter which, together with Chapter 23, forms the basis of the accession process and comprises the necessary guarantees that the country meets the criteria in terms of the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights and freedoms, as essential values of the EU.
The new Enlargement Methodology adopted by the European Commission in 2020 puts an even greater emphasis on the implementation of the reforms related to these values. Chapter 24 is part of the cluster of Fundamental/Core Values and the fulfilment of the benchmarks set in different stages of the negotiations for this chapter is a direct precondition for the opening and smooth running of the negotiations in the other chapters, i.e. clusters. In other words, a lack of progress or setbacks in this chapter could lead to stagnation in the accession process in general, as well as in activation of appropriate sanctions in the form of cuts in the financial assistance or a freeze of the participation in certain EU programs and policies.
The document is available for download here.