40,000 European notaries: united in diversity, providing legal certainty in the European Union

posted in: CNUE news

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by Jean-François Sagaut, Chair of the CNUE European Authentic Instrument Working Group

Like the European Union, one of the greatest assets of the 22 European notariats is their diversity. And these 22 notariats are characterised by a single ideal: providing legal certainty in the area of Freedom, Justice and Security sought by the European Union.

While some like to criticise Europe for lacking today the ambition and generosity that drove it a little over a half-century ago, they should observe how this legal space is being built. They will find the founding spirit of the beginnings, and will be convinced of the determination of the 40,000 European notaries and their 160,000 employees to satisfy this primary need of citizens to live their legal lives in full certainty.

To mark this renewed ambition, a sensational event was needed.
Everything converged towards it taking place in Strasburg, a European capital, at the European Parliament, the incarnation of democracy in Europe, in the presence of representatives of the notariats of the 22 Member States of continental law.

It could take no other form than an authentic instrument, towards which we know today that the European institutions are favourable. Regarding the content, it was decided to formalise the European notariats’ commitment in a Charter of Legal Certainty in Europe, which provides the European institutions and the 507 million EU citizens with irreplaceable notarial expertise.

The notaries of Europe confirm in this Charter that legal certainty is as much the cause of their existence as the objective of the general interest mission they accomplish at the service of all citizens. Specifically, this means providing an answer to the legitimate expectations of citizens to have access to law, but also a response to the European institutions’ expectations regarding the creation of tools resulting from practice and adapted to the needs of citizens and enterprises.

Thus, for example, the www.successions-europe.eu and www.couples-europe.eu websites provide full information on succession laws, matrimonial property regimes and partnerships in 23 languages. Other work areas are currently underway in the areas of wills and the vulnerable.

But the Charter also underlines need for practitioners to be conversant with the applicable laws, more specifically in inheritance matters.
This is why the European Notarial Network was set up. A contact point in each of the EU’s notariats provides notaries with technical support to resolve cross-border cases.

The notaries are involved in all the working parties set up by the European institutions. Their expertise and contribution constitute an unrivalled source of proposals.They have thus been associated in the various stages in developing and implementing the regulation on international sessions, the regulation creating the European Enforcement Order and also the regulation on the choice of law applicable to divorce and the Brussels I regulation, the amended version of which entered into force in January. The CNUE is also involved in the development of the proposal for a regulation on the movement of public documents that is currently underway.

Of course, the charter also underlines the technological means that the notariats have implemented and have committed to developing (European Register of Registers of Wills, EUFIDS, for example).
In a word, this charter contains the catalyst of the 2020 Plan of the Notaries of Europe called for by Presidents Michielsens, Tarrade and Pasqualis.

The ambition of the notaries of Europe is that the European Union, aware of the sincerity and usefulness of their actions, endorses the European notaries as delegates of a supranational European official authority.