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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Big Day for Civil Justice in the EU

Viviane Reding © EU

The European Commission adopted two proposals that will substantially ease the life of citizens and businesses in the EU. The first is a reform of the so-called "Brussels I” Regulation, which helps settle civil and commercial disputes. The Commission is abolishing the cumbersome and costly "exequatur" procedure, which currently requires an extra administrative step to get a court judgement issued in one EU Member State executed in another EU country. Judgements in civil and commercial matters will flow freely across borders. Businesses can save about €48 million a year. The second initiative concerns the free circulation of documents. The European Commission proposes options on making it easier for public documents – from marriage certificates to property deeds – to be more easily recognised in another EU Member State. One possibility is an optional European civil status certificate for the most commonly used type of civil status documents. This will save citizens hassle and money. The Commission is launching a public consultation before proposing legislative measures in 2013. Vice-President Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner said: "Today is an important day for civil justice in Europe. The two proposals are a bold step towards the creation of a single area for justice in Europe in which citizens move freely without encountering bureaucratic obstacles. This area is built on mutual trust between Member States' legal systems."