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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

No more costly and bureaucratic stamps for public documents

Stamping a document © EU

Today the Commission proposed to abolish bureaucratic and unnecessary requirements for accepting people’s public documents as authentic in another Member State. Currently, when people move to another EU country and they want to register a birth, get married, register a house, or apply for a residence card or when companies want to prove their legal status, national authorities will ask for certified copies, certified translations and rubber stamps. The Commission is acting to get rid of these requirements and simplify people's and companies' lives when they exercise their free movement rights in the EU.

Vice-President Reding has been working to build bridges between the different legal systems in the EU and to remove obstacles that frustrate EU citizens making use of their right to free movement. She is also working to remove bureaucratic obstacles for companies, such as the costly 'exequator' procedure, which the Commission abolished in December – a purely administrative procedure costing on average € 2,200 just to rubber-stamp a court judgement in another EU country.

Today's proposal follows in that vein, getting rid of further unnecessary red tape, pure bureaucracy, that originates in the Member States. The European Commission is proposing to scrap formalities such as the 'Apostille' stamp and 'legalisation' – which are currently required to certify around 1.4 million documents within the EU each year. Overall, this will bring savings of up to € 330 million.

Today's proposal is one of the 25 actions announced by the Commission in its 2010 EU Citizenship Report to make citizens' lives easier. A second report with 12 new actions is set to come out at the beginning of May.