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Accession to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)

With this decision, the Council maps out the route for the European Community to accede to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

ACT

Council Decision 2006/719/EC of 5 October 2006 on the accession of the Community to the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

SUMMARY

On 5 October 2006, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted the decision on the accession of the European Community to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCC). The purpose of this international intergovernmental organisation is to work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law in the participating countries. Since 3 April 2007, the European Community has been a participant of the HCCH.

Accession to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)

The sole article of the decision stipulates that the Community is to accede to the HCCH by means of the declaration of acceptance of the statute of the conference (Annex I), as soon as the latter has taken the formal decision to admit the Community as a member.

The Community must also deposit a declaration of competence (Annex II) specifying the matters in respect of which competence has been transferred to it by its Member States. These are measures in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters that have cross-border implications and are necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market. These measures are designed to:

  • improve and simplify the system for cross-border service of judicial and extra-judicial documents, cooperation in the taking of evidence and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in civil and commercial cases, including decisions in extra-judicial cases;
  • promote the compatibility of the rules applicable in Member States concerning the conflict of laws and jurisdiction;
  • eliminate obstacles to the good functioning of civil proceedings.

Furthermore, the Community has external responsibilities that can be subject to conventions of the HCCH, for example in the fields of the internal market and consumer protection. The external competence of the Community has been defined by the Court of Justice of the European Communities (ECJ): the Community may conclude international agreements whenever the internal competence has already been used, in order to adopt measures for implementing common policies or if the international agreement is necessary to obtain one of the Community's objectives. The Community's external competence is exclusive to the extent to which an international agreement affects internal Community rules or alters their scope. Where this is the case, it is for the Community to enter into external undertakings with third states or international organisations. An international agreement can fall entirely, or only to some extent, within exclusive Community competence.

In a declaration (Annex III), the Community endeavours to examine whether it is in its interests to join existing Hague Conventions in respect of which there is Community competence.

The statute of the Hague Conference has had to be amended to allow a regional economic integration organisation to accede to it. In June 2005, the Diplomatic Conference of the HCCH adopted the necessary amendments to the statute by consensus (Annex IV).

Background

On 28 November 2002, the Council authorised the Commission to negotiate the conditions and modalities of Community accession to the HCCH. Following the success of its negotiations with the HCCH, the Commission recommended that the Council adopt the present decision on the accession of the European Community. The European Parliament endorsed the Community's accession on 7 September 2006. The European Community has been a member of the HCCH since 3 April 2007.

An international organisation in the field of private international law

Over 60 countries have acceded to the HCCH, which is an international intergovernmental organisation that prepares multilateral legal instruments satisfying international needs and provides the necessary follow-up. Private international law governs matters of private law (family law, rights of contracts, etc.) of an international nature. Private international law is the counterpart of that part of the national law of Member States that stipulates which law (foreign or national) is to apply in a particular case.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2006/719/EC

5.10.2006

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OJ L 297 of 26.10.2006

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 2009/397/EC of 26 February 2009 on the signing on behalf of the European Community of the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements [Official Journal L 133 of 29.5.2009].
This decision provides for the signing of the Convention on Choice of Court Agreements by the European Community on behalf of its Member States. The convention was concluded under the Hague Conference on Private International Law on 30 June 2005. While the Member States, with the exception of Denmark, are bound by the convention, the Community nevertheless retains its competence with regard to the related issues.
The convention applies to exclusive choice of court agreements concluded for international civil or commercial matters. It aims to enhance judicial cooperation, in particular by providing uniform rules for the recognition and enforcement of judgments in disputes arising from commercial transactions to which exclusive choice of court agreements apply. The purpose of the convention is to guarantee that the courts chosen by the parties to a transaction will hear the case and that the ensuing judgement is recognised in other countries.

Council Decision 2003/93/EC of 19 December 2002 authorising the Member States, in the interest of the Community, to sign the 1996 Hague Convention on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition, enforcement and cooperation in respect of parental responsibility and measures for the protection of children [Official Journal L 48 of 21.2.2003].

Last updated: 02.03.2011
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