What future for the Stockholm Programme?

posted in: EU news

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With just a few weeks until the end of the seventh European legislature, the European institutions are working on the future of the Stockholm Programme. Created for the 2010-2014 period, this programme is the third EU plan on freedom, security and justice, following Tampere (2000-2004) and The Hague (2005-2009). During its meeting on 27 and 28 June 2013, the European Council announced that it would reveal the strategic goals for the post-Stockholm programme at its meeting on 24 June 2014.

In this context, the European Commission was invited to present its contributions to the process. It began by organising the Assises de la Justice Conference on 21 and 22 November 2014. This event brought together the stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to express concrete proposals for the coming years (see the CNUE’s position on the future of the Stockholm programme (http://www.notaries-of-europe.eu/news/position-papers/position-post-stockholm-programme).

The Commission then published, on 11 March 2014, a communication on its EU Justice Agenda for 2020 (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/effective-justice/files/com_2014_144_en.pdf). It highlights three main challenges: strengthening trust, improving mobility and contributing to economic growth. In order to respond effectively, the Commission considers it necessary to consolidate the acquis, codify EU law and propose additional initiatives (see the Commission website for more information: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/effective-justice/news/140311_en.htm).

Among the subjects mentioned, the Commission insists on training practitioners in EU law for more effective application of the acquis in the Member States. In this respect, it recalls the objective of training 50% of practitioners by 2020. If also identifies e-justice as being a fundamental pillar of future EU policies in order to make access to justice easier for citizens and enterprises. With this aim in mind, it considers the development of the e-Justice portal (https://e-justice.europa.eu/home.do) to be a priority, along with the interconnection of national registers (business, insolvency registers, etc.). Finally, the Commission invites reflection on an initiative relating to civil status documents to make them more easily accepted in the Member States.

Although many of the programme’s provisions depend on the intergovernmental framework, and therefore on the Council, the European Parliament was keen to adopt a position on the subject. In plenary session on Wednesday 2 April, the assembly adopted a report on the mid-term review of the Stockholm programme and its implementation.

In this report and indeed logically, Parliament expresses the wish to be involved directly in the decision-making process with the more systematic use of the ordinary legislative procedure. It also calls for the greater association of national parliaments. Special attention is given to internal and judicial affairs: respect for fundamental rights, internal and external security, the fight against crime, cooperation in criminal matters, etc.

Parliament notes legislative initiatives in the field of civil law are focused largely on substantive law and calls for a greater focus on procedural law in the future. It also calls on the Commission to issue a proposal for a regulation on the mutual recognition of the effects of civil status documents in the EU. Finally, it reiterates its call for the adoption of a European Code of Private International Law and invites the Commission to further develop the e-Justice portal.

Consult the European Parliament’s report: