The Meijers Committee

The Meijers Committee is a unique group of professors, judges, attorneys and academics in Europe, who systematically assess European legislative proposals in the areas of criminal law, migration law, privacy, and discrimination on their conformity with the requirements of a democratic constitutional state.

Since its foundation, the Meijers Committee has made a significant contribution to the constitutional quality of European legislation thanks to its early responses and the contacts it maintains with with European legislative assemblies. The Committee's advice is regularly the subject of Parliamentary debate and questions or is frequently incorporated in legislative amendments.

 

Background

During the past quarter century, the Member States of the European Union have intensified cooperation in their efforts to better control migration and to combat crime more effectively. This collaboration is driven by the notion that transnational situations require a transnational approach.

The reverse side of the coin of increased cooperation is that democratic control and an individual's access to the Courts is often less well regulated at the European level than it is in the individual EU Member States. In this way, the European Union offers a way for national governments to “organize” judicial and parliamentary oversight and “paint it out the picture”. This in turn means that the people affected, be they migrants or suspects, are often placed in an even more vulnerable position than they already are.

European judicial collaboration, however, has consequences not only for these specific categories of persons, but also for the public at large. For example, individuals see their privacy adversely impacted, or they experience discrimination based on their background. National parliaments have little influence on European political decision making in such areas as justice, security, and migration.

The Meijers Committee strives to counteract these effects as best it can by researching them, and then publishing its comments and advice.

In 1999 the EU initiated the development of a single legal “Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice”. Great strides have been made since then in realizing a Common European Asylum System, and work is progressing on the harmonization of penal law, such as the European Arrest Warrant, and European legislation on narcotics and fraud.

These and other political projects will continue to develop further in the future, but respect for the principles of the democratic constitutional state is not always evident in such endeavours.

 

Committee's role

The Meijers Committee has built up an authoritative reputation in European civil society. The Committee offers high quality advice and alternatives for early consideration; moreover, its extensive network of contacts in Brussels and The Hague means that such advice is placed on the political agenda at the highest level. The Committee issues between 15 and 20 advisory notes every year, all of which are available on its website, while also being distributed to large numbers of contacts.

The Meijers Committee informs both houses of The Netherlands Parliament about significant developments in negotiations between the Member States on directives and regulations, which often forms the basis for Parliamentary Questions and debates. At the same time, the Committee talks with European parliamentarians, advising them and assisting them to formulate their own standpoints. If the Member States finally reach agreement and enter into negotiation with the European Parliament, The Meijers Committee provides the politicians with concrete advice on compromise proposals.

Besides this sort of advice on new proposals and continuing negotiations, the Meijers Committee also participates in legislative consultations and sometimes suggest new legislation. The Committee holds regular discussions directly with Ministers and MPs, European Commissioners, MEPs, and officials about these issues.