In the face of the rise of terrorism and hostage-taking in Europe, the European Council (of EC heads of government) decided in Rome in December 1975, on the basis of a British proposal, that ‘Community Ministers for the Interior (or ministers with similar responsibilities) should meet to discuss matters coming within their competence, in particular with regard to law and order’. The following year, ministers of justice were invited to participate in this work. The first meeting of what became known as the Trevi Group – an informal body for intergovernmental cooperation in the field of law and order – was held in Luxembourg in June 1976.
The origin of the name ‘Trevi’ is disputed. It may have been a reference to the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the city in which the decision to establish the group was first taken, or a pun on the name of Mr Fonteijn, director-general in the Dutch justice ministry, who was one of the initiators of the group. Trevi was subsequently turned into an acronym for ‘terrorisme, radicalisme, extremisme et violence internationale’.
The six-monthly ministerial meetings of the Trevi Group were prepared by a meeting of senior officials, supported by initially two and eventually five working groups. Over time, the focus of Trevi work broadened from counter-terrorism to organised crime and police cooperation more generally. As most of the Trevi Group’s concerns were, at the time, outside the scope of the Treaties, the European Commission was not associated with its work and the Council of Ministers was not obliged to answer questions about Trevi activities in the European Parliament. In practice, however, the minister chairing the group would normally report to the relevant parliamentary committee once during each six-month presidency of the Council. The work previously undertaken in the Trevi Group was formalised as part of the intergovernmental Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) ‘pillar’ of EU activity introduced by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. It was subsequently ‘communautised’ by the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force in December 2009.
Copyright: Anthony Teasdale, 2012
Citation: The Penguin Companion to European Union (2012), additional website entry