On 30 June, European Parliament and Council of the EU negotiators reached an agreement on two proposed pieces of legislation on taking evidence and on service of documents in civil and commercial matters. The aim of the new legislation is to make judicial cross-border cooperation between national courts more efficient through digitalisation.
The main elements of the agreement included:
- Courts will be able to exchange documents electronically: changes in both regulations establish a decentralised IT system that will allow for faster, more secure and effective exchange of documents between member states;
- The decentralised IT system will be composed of national, interoperable IT systems, without involving any EU institutions;
- Data protection: information will be kept strictly confidential and personal data and privacy will be protected when documents are transmitted and evidence is being taken; personal data which is deemed irrelevant for a specific case will be deleted immediately;
- Increased use of distance communication: modern communication technologies, such as videoconferencing, that can lower costs and help evidence to be taken more quickly, will be used appropriately and with the consent of the person to be heard.
- Greater legal certainty, combined with simple and digitalised procedures, will encourage individuals and businesses to engage in cross-border transactions, thereby boosting trade within the EU, and hence the functioning of the internal market.
Regarding next steps, the Parliament and Council now need to endorse the final version of the agreement before it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The two regulations will enter into force 20 days following their publication.