Civil justice cooperation covers both civil and commercial matters (mostly monetary claims between private parties; companies and/or private persons) and matters of family law (monetary claims but also e.g. divorce decisions, i.e. decisions changing legal status of persons).
This judicial cooperation is needed in the EU to ensure the free movement of persons.
Building the European area of justice through cooperation
The European area of justice has been designed to avoid the complexity of legal and administrative systems in EU countries, which can prevent and discourage individuals and companies from exercising their rights.
For instance, they should be able to "approach courts and authorities in any EU country as easily as in their own" according to the conclusions of the Tampere European Council.
The following programmes aim to strengthen this area of justice:
- The Programme on Mutual recognition in civil and commercial matters
- the Hague Programme
- the Stockholm Programme
Closer cooperation between the authorities of the EU countries should eliminate any obstacles deriving from the complexity of 28 different systems. This cooperation draws on the principle of mutual recognition based on mutual trust between EU countries.