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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding urges Member States to ease mediation in cross-border disputes

Handshake with EU symbol in background @ EU

The European Union Mediation Directive –adopted on 23 April 2008 and in force since 21 May 2011 – applies when two parties who are involved in a cross-border dispute voluntarily agree to settle their dispute using an impartial mediator. All EU Member States should now have measures in place to transpose the EU legislation. However, nine countries have not yet notified all national measures needed to fully implement the Directive. The Commission is committed to seeing that EU legislation is properly enforced and has started legal proceedings against the countries concerned.

Mediation can solve problems between businesses, employers and employees, landlords and tenants, or families, so that they can maintain and even strengthen their relationship in a constructive way – a result that cannot always be achieved through court proceedings. Settling disputes out of court spares justice systems' resources and can potentially cut legal costs. A crucial element in any mediation is trust in the process, especially when two parties come from different countries. EU rules therefore encourage Member States to provide quality control, establish codes of conduct and offer training to mediators to make sure there is an effective mediation system in place.

"Access to justice is a cornerstone of the European area of justice," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner . "Mediation is an important alternative to going to court in cross-border disputes and can help the parties involved find amicable solutions. It saves time and it saves money. I call on Member States to urgently finalise transposition so that citizens and businesses can fully enjoy their rights."

As of today, 17 Member States have these EU rules in place, while Denmark has opted not to enforce these rules – a prerogative it has under a protocol annexed to the EU Treaties. So far, nine countries (the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Cyprus, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom) have not informed the Commission that they have put the necessary rules in place to fully transpose the directive.