Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

28 June 2023

The presidency and the European Parliament today reached a provisional agreement on two EU laws that will digitalise the EU justice systems and make them more accessible and effective.

Thanks to digital technologies, courts can work more effectively and cooperate across borders. The agreement reached today will improve access to justice for citizens and businesses, as well as facilitate the fight against crime.

Gunnar Strömmer, Swedish minister for justice

Citizens and their representatives will be able to communicate with competent authorities in cross-border procedures in the EU through a European electronic access point, sending their requests and receiving replies electronically. Authorities will also be able to communicate between themselves and exchange case-related data in civil, commercial and criminal matters through secure, reliable digital channels.

The new rules, once adopted, will improve cross-border judicial procedures by:

  • allowing parties and other relevant persons in civil, commercial and criminal hearings to participate by means of videoconferencing or other distance communication technology
  • establishing a European electronic access point through which natural and legal persons can file claims, send and receive relevant information, and communicate with the competent authorities
  • accepting electronic communication and documents from natural and legal persons
  • recognising documents with electronic signatures or seals
  • promoting the payment of fees through electronic means
Background and next steps

Currently, digital means are not always used for communication between authorities in cross-border civil, commercial and criminal cases. The reason for this is a lack of secure and reliable digital communication channels or the non-recognition of electronic documents, signatures and seals.

In addition, in case of ‘force majeure’ events – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – the normal functioning of member states’ justice systems may also be affected. The continued functioning of the courts in such situations will require a digital tool with satisfactory security and fundamental rights standards.

The proposed EU-laws that the Council and the European Parliament provisionally have agreed on, do not establish new European procedures. They will create the necessary legal framework to facilitate electronic communication in the context of the cross-border judicial cooperation procedures in civil, commercial and criminal matters.

The proposals for a regulation on the digitalisation of judicial cooperation and access to justice and for an accompanying directive were adopted by the Commission on 1 December 2021. The Council agreed on its negotiating position at the Council meeting on 9 December 2022.

The agreement will have to be endorsed by member states representatives before its adoption by both the Council and the European Parliament.

Source – EU Council

 

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