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Judicial cooperation in civil matters

In a genuine European area of justice, individuals and businesses should be free to exercise their rights fully. The main objective of judicial cooperation in civil matters is to improve collaboration between Member States' authorities in order to eliminate all obstacles stemming from incompatibility between the various judicial and administrative systems (mutual recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, access to justice and harmonisation of national legislation).

As early as 1993, the Maastricht Treaty included judicial cooperation in civil matters in its Title VI. The Amsterdam Treaty transferred judicial cooperation in civil matters to Title IV of the EC Treaty (Article 65), thus "communitising" it and including it in the area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ).

The Tampere European Council (October 1999) made the principle of mutual recognition of judgments the true cornerstone of judicial cooperation in both civil and criminal matters within the European Union.

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, judicial cooperation in civil matters was moved under Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, together with all other aspects of the area of freedom, security and justice. Henceforth, decisions in this field are taken in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision procedure), except for issues relating to family law.

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