If you're curious about what the Lisbon Treaty will mean for Justice and Home affairs in the EU, you should look closely at the so-called Stockholm Programme - a slew of proposals for more integration in areas such as asylum policy, data sharing, policing and other sensitive policies, traditionally reserved for the national governments.
It's hard to know exactly what the Stockholm Programme will look like for two reasons: First, it's huge, with proposals ranging from a European surveillance and security system (including ID card register and Internet surveillance) to a common asylum policy. Secondly, in trade-mark EU fashion, it's being negotiated behind closed doors, making it difficult for us common folk to know what in the world is going on. Quite apart from the merits or drawbacks of these proposals (the surveillance and datasharing parts no doubt sound awfully Orwellian - as we've argued before), it's fair to say that this is contentious stuff.
And those in charge have wasted little time to take advantage of the Lisbon Treaty, which scraps national vetoes in a range of areas of justice and home affairs, and massively extends the EU's competencies in this area. Even though the Treaty has not been ratified yet, the Swedish Presidency has made it no secret that they intend to raise the ambition of the Stockholm Programme under the Treaty.
Anders Hall, key aid to Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask, has said that the Commission's proposals in this area have been "too modest", given that the EU will soon operate under Lisbon Treaty rules. He said: "Given that the Stockholm Programme will now be carried out in a Lisbon-context, the level of ambition will increase to a certain extent. But exactly how this will play out is unclear as talks and negotiations are currently taking place between the member states."
These people are wasting absolutely no time in ploughing ahead with the Lisbon provisions, even in areas that strike at the very heart of national democracy. Is anyone paying attention?
Hat tip: Swedish blogger HAX