European Day of Civil Justice – Interview with Ms Viviane Reding

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Can you present the European Day of Civil Justice to us? Why was such a Day created? What are its objectives?

Ms Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice: "Thanks to free movement, increasing numbers of Europeans live, travel and work in other EU countries. Europeans benefit enormously from the right to free movement, but they are nonetheless always faced with obstacles owing to the different legal systems in the EU. We must ensure that these differences do not prevent citizens from having access to civil justice in other Member States that is similar to the access they have in their own country. This is why the EU has implemented a number of measures intended to help individuals have access to civil justice across borders.

The  European Day of Civil Justice has been held on 25 October every year for the past ten years. This day aims to raise the public’s awareness of individuals’ rights to access to civil justice when they work, get married, have children and buy property and services elsewhere in the EU".

What do you expect from the organisation of such an event?

Ms Viviane Reding: "Citizens can only exercise their rights in the European area if they are sufficiently well informed. More specifically, for over ten years, significant advances have been made in the creation of a European area of justice and a large number of legislative and non-legislative instruments have been implemented. These results have a direct impact on the daily lives of EU citizens dealing with their legal affairs when they cross borders. The impact is also significant for legal professionals, who serve as real intermediaries in European civil justice for citizens.

In this context, events like this one help to raise public awareness and they provide a window onto what the European Union brings each of us. For this reason, it is essential that this event is accessible to any citizens wishing to find out about legal Europe so they can have specific answers to their specific questions. This event should also generate a multiplying effect so that those having participated tell their family and friends about it".

In the area of civil justice, what challenges await the European notariat in the coming months?

Ms Viviane Reding: "The implementation of the Successions regulation in the coming months is a crucial challenge for the development of a European area of justice that provides real solutions for citizens, a Europe synonymous with tangible benefits for its citizens, even when they are going through difficult situations in their lives. By virtue of the role of notaries in succession matters, the European notariat is an essential element in setting up this new instrument. Much has already been done with the development of the multilingual website, which was co-funded by the European Commission and which contains information on the Member States’ succession laws. Moreover, the notariats of the European Union is in a very good position, within the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, to participate in the implementation of this instrument and we are counting on the notariat to communicate on this regulation and to train practitioners on the ground in order to ensure it is applied effectively.

To complement the work completed with respect to successions, the Commission has proposed two regulations, which are currently under negotiation, on matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships. These proposals directly concern the work of notaries who, for example when settling a succession, also have to deal with the property consequences of the deceased’s marriage or registered partnership".

In this context, what relationship do you have with the Council of Europe and, more specifically, the CEPEJ?

Ms Viviane Reding: "The European Commission maintains very good cooperation with the Council of Europe’s CEPEJ. The CEPEJ’s experience and methodology are widely valued and recognised and it is important to make the best use possible of the this organisation. This is why, last year, I asked the CEPEJ to collect data and conduct an analysis of how the judicial systems work and how the economy operates in the Member States of the European Union. The Commission used the relevant data from the CEPEJ’s study to prepare the EU Justice Scoreboard, published in March 2013. We will be pleased to pursue this fruitful cooperation further".

Why was our event in Luxembourg chosen to be the flagship event of this Day?

Ms Viviane Reding: "The Commission has been working in partnership with the CNUE for a long time to raise the public’s awareness of civil justice issues. The areas dealt with by European notaries are of utmost importance for citizens and legal practitioners (successions, matrimonial property regimes and registered partnerships). Notaries therefore have considerable precious direct experience and play a role providing citizens with information.
Furthermore, the event will take place in Luxembourg: a very European country that understands the importance of a European area of justice. In a Europe without borders, it is important to continue to build bridges to connect our various judicial systems

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