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Brussels, 23 June 2008

Commission proposes strengthening European Judicial Network

The Commission has adopted a proposal for the review of the 2001 decision on the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters between the Member States. The purpose of this proposal is to endow the network with a new legal framework, a more effective organisational structure and greater means to enable it to play a lead role within the European judicial area as the essential vehicle for cooperation between all those involved in civil justice in future.

Vice-President Barrot said: "The European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters is the instrument needed to make Europe into a real, tangible area of civil justice in which the authorities and courts of the Member States will work effectively together, an area that we are building step by step, stone by stone in the service of our fellow citizens."

The creation of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters developed from the idea that the gradual establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice requires the improvement, simplification and acceleration of effective judicial cooperation between the Member States in civil and commercial matters.

The Judicial Network in Civil Matters, which has been operating since 1 December 2002, provides tangible benefits for individuals and enterprises involved in cross-border litigation. Its function is to facilitate judicial cooperation between the Member States and to improve public access to justice through its Internet site, which came on line in 2003. The network consists of some 400 members, contact points with the Member States, judges, liaison magistrates and central authorities of the justice ministries.

In a report issued on 16 May 2006[1], the Commission had observed that the Judicial Network in Civil Matters had generally improved judicial cooperation in the Union, but that it was still far from achieving its full potential. In particular, it had emerged that the effectiveness of the network in accomplishing its tasks depended largely on the still limited performance capacities of its contact points and that these capacities needed to be increased.

By means of this new proposal, the Commission therefore intends to strengthen the role of the network in performing its tasks of judicial cooperation. More particularly, the Commission proposal sets out to:

  • Strengthen the role and means of the contact points designated by each Member State
  • Open up the network to the legal professions
  • Improve public access to justice
  • Encourage the European judicial network to adopt a more open attitude to the world

For the European Commission, the purpose of the network has always been to become the key instrument for the practical establishment of the European area of civil justice. The Commission continues to believe that the network can play a lead role as the Union's genuine operational tool for the implementation of the Hague Programme as regards both the evaluation of how instruments are applied and, above all, the concrete expression of the reciprocal recognition of decisions and the improvement of judicial cooperation in civil matters.

Without prejudice to the terms of reference of other structures, the network must therefore quickly become a permanent forum for discussion and monitoring the progress made and the difficulties encountered in implementing the instruments adopted in respect of civil matters, especially via input from the contact points and members 4 the network in terms of practical experience.

European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters website:

More information on Vice-President Barrot's website:

[1] COM (2006) 203 final, SEC (2006) 579 final

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