Tempering the EU? NGO Advocacy in the Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice

Publication Date



Cambridge Review of International Affairs






The European Union’s (EU) area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) portfolio comprises policy areas such as immigration and asylum, and police and judicial cooperation. Steps were taken to bring this field into the mandate of the EU first by the Maastricht Treaty, followed by changes implemented by the Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties, the last one ‘normalizing’ the EU’s erstwhile Third Pillar. As the emergent EU regime continues to consolidate in this field, NGOs of various kinds continue to seek to influence policy-making and implementation, with varying success. This article seeks to establish the context in which NGOs carry out their work and argues that the EU-NGO interface is impacted both by the institutional realities of the European Union and the capacities of EU-oriented NGOs to seize and expand opportunities for access and input into the policy cycle. Using EU instruments representing three different policy bundles in AFSJ (immigration, asylum and judicial cooperation in criminal matters), the article seeks to map out NGO strategies in engaging and oftentimes resisting European Union policy instruments.

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