Brussels News August 2010

JHA funding programme 2010 - civil and criminal law projects
The Commission has adopted calls for proposals for both civil and criminal justice projects to be undertaken in 2011/12.   The deadline for the submission of project proposals is set at 1 September in the civil justice field, and 15 September on the criminal side.  For documents and guidance, on the civil side, go to http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/funding/civil/funding_civil_en.htm
and on the criminal, go to http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/funding/jpen/funding_jpen_en.htm

DG Justice Liberty and Security split in two with new Directors General
With effect from 1 July the Commission has split DG Justice, Liberty and Security into two separate DGs - DG Justice, with new Director General Fran├žoise Le Bail (French, previously Deputy DG of DG Enterprise) and DG Home Affairs, with Director General Stefano Manservisi (Italian, previously DG of DG Development). 

Stockholm Programme Action Plan
The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee is adopting a report commenting on the civil, commercial, family and PIL aspects of the Commission's ambitious Action Plan, setting out the next 5 years of EU activity in the justice field.  The draft report is lukewarm, preferring a period of reflection, with greater emphasis placed on mutual recognition, facilitated by training and exchanges of judges and legal practitioners.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/draftReportsCom.do?language=EN&body=JURI

Commission consultation on a future European Contract Law
In early July, the Commission published its promised Communication on progress towards a European contract law for consumers and business.  This launches an extensive consultation on the future of the CFR, with all options open as to the end result. The consultation period takes us to the end of January 2011.   See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/consulting_public/news_consulting_0052_en.htm   The European Parliament is organising a meeting with national parliaments on the same subject, in Brussels, on 27 October 2010.

Brussels I regulation review
At the end of June the EP's Legal Affairs Committee ("JURI") adopted its report on the Commission's 5-year review of the operation of the Brussels I Regulation, 44/2001 on "jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters".    The report is in line with the Bar's thinking on many key issues, including the need for safeguards to accompany the abolition of exequatur; and that arbitration should continue to be excluded from the regulation's scope.   See: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+REPORT+A7-2010-0219+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN
The Commission has formed an experts group to advise it on the complex issue of arbitration in the context of the review.  A member of the Bar has been invited to join. 

Law applicable to non-contractual obligations
Diana Wallis MEP has launched discussions within the Legal Affairs Committee of the EP which should lead to the adoption of an own-initiative report calling for the Rome II regulation (864/2007)  to be amended to include within its scope cases involving rights to privacy and relating to personality.  Procedure: 2009/2170/INI.  

Freezing of debtor's assets
At the end of June, Arlene McCarthy MEP presented her Working Document paving the way for an EP own initiative report suggesting to the Commission that it create EU interim measures for the freezing and disclosure of  debtors' assets in cross-border cases.  This follows on from two Commission consultations, in 2006-8, to which the Bar replied, with a similar suggestion.  The Stockholm Programme Action Plan also  lists it.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/workingDocsCom.do?language=EN&body=JURI

Consultation on Rights of the child
The European Commission plans to issue a Communication in late 2010 on the rights of the child, setting out policy for the next few years.  As part of its preparations, it has launched a consultation seeking practical insights and ideas, particularly as regards the treatment of children in the justice field, and their protection.  The deadline for responses is 20 August 2010.  The FLBA has been informed.  See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/consulting_public/news_consulting_0009_en.htm

Rights of suspects and defendants to translation and interpretation
In late 2009, the Council adopted a "Roadmap of (6) measures" to provide safeguards for suspects and defendants caught up in the criminal justice system.   The first of these, Measure A, on the right to translation and interpretation, has been agreed between the Council and the Parliament.  See: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st10/st10984.en10.pdf
Meanwhile the Council is also considering the need for Measure A to be accompanied by a non-binding best practice recommendation. See: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st11/st11471.en10.pdf

Plans for a Commission proposal on Measure B (the letter of rights) seem to have been put on the backburner for now.  The Commission is also preparing for Measure C on legal aid and legal assistance in cross-border criminal matters, due in 2011. 

Council conclusions on implementation of the European Arrest Warrant
In June, the Council issued conclusions setting out suggestions as to how to solve some of the practical problems arising from implementation of the EAW.  See:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/114859.pdf

Proposal for a regulation on conflicts rules in Succession
Work continues on the 2009 Commission proposal for a regulation on the private international law aspects of succession, and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (Reference COD(2009)0157.   The UK has not opted in.  The EP is still debating several problematic issues, so no report will be adopted before the autumn.  Meanwhile, the June JHA Council adopted political guidelines for future work on the file: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/114956.pdf

Consultation on double taxation of Inheritance Tax
The Commission is conducting a sensitive consultation on whether variation in inheritance tax rules between Member States is creating obstacles to free movement of persons, and if so, what can and should be done about it.  The deadline for responses is 22 September 2010.  Relevant Bar bodies have been informed.  See:
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/consultations/tax/2010_06_inheritance_en.htm

Future direction of EU trade policy
In June, the Commission launched a public consultation on the future direction of EU Trade Policy, seeking views on rationale, scope and strategic objectives.  See:
http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=FutureTradePolicy&lang=en

A new Strategy for the Internal Market
Former EU Commissioner Mario Monti's recent report to the Commission President, "A new strategy for the Single Market - at the service of Europe's economy and society", is a recommended read for those of you are interested in big-picture policy issues.  See: http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/pdf/monti_report_final_10_05_2010_en.pdf

Review of the implementation of the Services Framework Directive
As part of its review, the Commission is conducting a public consultation seeking stakeholder views of national implementing measures of Directive 2006/123/EC, in particular those relating to requirements imposed either on the establishment of service providers or on the cross border provision of their services.   The Bar Council is looking at it.   The closing date for responses is 13 September 2010.   See: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2010/services_directive_en.htm

Consumer Rights Directive - where do we go from here?
On 12 July, the Internal Market Committee of the EP (IMCO) held a debate on the key elements of the October 2008 proposal for Consumer Rights Directive (CRD).  See:   http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/homeCom.do?language=EN&body=IMCO

Collective redress - what next?
In the wake of, to date unsuccessful, Commission initiatives in both the consumer and competition fields since 2008 to try to develop collective redress mechanism(s) at EU level, the Commission has decided to conduct a horizontal consultation on collective redress, with a view to developing common principles that could be applied in sector-specific regimes, dealing with issues such as opt-in/out, the desirability of ADR etc.

EU Patent - are these the future translation provisions?
On 1 July, the Commission issued a proposal for a regulation setting out possible translation arrangements for the future EU patent, whereby the patent would be granted in Fr, German or EN, with important sections translated in 2 other languages; and no further need for inventors to validate the patent at national level.
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/docs/patent/20100701_patent_proposal_en.pdf

Enforcement of Intellectual Property rights
The EP Plenary has adopted an own-initiative report encouraging the Commission to be ambitious in the enforcement of intellectual property rights ("IPR") in the EU, in particular through the use of new Treaty powers to legislate for the use of criminal sanctions for breach of IPR.  For its part, the Commission intends to issue an evaluation report on the whole issue in the autumn, with a view to issuing a proposal in 2011. 

Combating late payments in Commercial Transactions
The EP and the Council look likely to have approved the April 2009 Commission proposal for a directive to combat this perennial commercial problem (Procedure Reference COD(2009)054) by the end of the year.  See: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2010-0136&language=EN

Interconnection of Business Registers
The Legal Affairs Committee of the EP has adopted an own initiative report supporting the Commission's idea possibly to create a mechanism to interconnect business registers, making it easier for consumers, creditors and potential business partners to access company information cross-border.   See: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/juri/pr/815/815667/815667en.pdf
 
Review of the Environmental impact assessment directive
On 29 June, the Commission launched a public consultation, deadline 24 September 2010, seeking input to its Review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, as amended).  See:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/consultations/eia.htm

State Aids to services of general economic interest
In June the Commission launched a public consultation on the SGEI package, adopted following the 2003 ECJ judgment in the Altmark case.  The deadline for responses is 10 September 2010.  See all relevant documentation: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2010_sgei/index_en.html 

New Guidelines on Vertical Restraints
The Commission has recently adopted new guidelines on the application of Article 101 TFEU (formerly Article 81 TEC) to vertical restraints.   See the Official Journal of 19 May 2010 C 130/01.