Brussels News December 2010

2011 Annual Work Programme - EU Funding Opportunities
The Commission has published its Annual Work Programmes in both the civil and criminal justice fields, for 2011. These detail the selection criteria and heads of EU funding under which stakeholders such as the Bar and its constituents may apply. The priorities for 2011 are wide-ranging, aimed at enabling a raft of EU civil (including competition law) and criminal justice measures. Worth studying now, to prepare for the programme calls in 2011. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/funding/civil/funding_civil_en.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/justice/funding/jpen/funding_jpen_en.htm   

Comprehensive Revamp of EU Data Protection Policy

The Commission is conducting a major consultation on future EU data protection policy with a view to developing a "comprehensive and coherent approach guaranteeing that the fundamental right to data protection for individuals is fully respected within the EU and beyond". This will involve updating Directive 95/46/EC on data protection to bring it into line with subsequent technological developments and Treaty changes.  The deadline for responses is 15 January 2011. See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/news/consulting_public/news_consulting_0006_en.htm           

Recognition of Professional Qualifications

Earlier this year, the Commission launched a review of the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC on recognition of professional qualifications  (including legal). This will include a public consultation on its future policy, with a view to issuing a legislative proposal late next year. The Commission's stated aim is to simplify and modernise the existing system, and encourage greater inter-Member State cooperation. One idea is the use of professional ID cards, recognised EU-wide See: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/news_en.htm        

Judicial Training Consultation

The Commission is preparing a Communication to be issued in the autumn of 2011 on judicial training on EU law and familiarisation with national legal systems. The consultation will deal with initial and postqualification training, with priority likely to be given to judges and prosecutors, though legal practitioners are also in the mix.

Commission Consultation on a Future European Contract Law
The Bar continues its preparation of a detailed response to the Commission's important consultation on the future of the Common Frame of Reference (CFR) and European Contract law. The consultation closes on 31 January 2011. See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/consulting_public/news_consulting_0052_en.htm.  The Bar responded to the Ministry of Justice inquiry informing the UK's response.

Consumer Rights Directive Proposal

The EP's Internal Market Committee (IMCO), which leads on this 2008 codifying proposal, has been working hard to try to work through the 1,000+ amendments tabled to the proposal, to facilitate a clear vote on the file at its 9 December meeting. See:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/homeCom.do;jsessionid=0C6A274765E9B568E73A4200D97E2CEF.node2?language=EN&body=IMCO

Brussels I Regulation Review
The much-anticipated Commission proposal on the review of regulation 44/2001 is expected just before Christmas. The Bar has played an active role in both the Commission and EP's preparatory work on the file, with some success. The UK has little choice but to opt-in, having opted in to the 2001 version, so this is a priority file.

Rome II - Law Applicable to Non-Contactual Obligations & Privacy

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 reference: 2009/2170/INI.

Free Circulation of Civil Status Documents
The promised Green paper on the free circulation of documents: civil status documents, authentic acts and the simplification of legalization, is likely to be issued before the end of this year. It is intended to ease the bureaucratic burden currently blighting citizens who move within the EU,  who seek, for example, to have their marital status or third country adoption, recognized in the host Member State.

Proposal for a Regulation on Conflicts Rules in Succession
Progress has been slow in recent months on this 2009 Commission proposal for a regulation (Reference COD(2009)0157. The EP waits for signs from the Council, so its report is not now expected before early 2011. That leaves more time to consider the EP-commissioned Max Planck Institute study on the proposal: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201005/20100526ATT75035/20100526ATT75035EN.pdf

Matrimonial Property
The Commission legislative proposal on matrimonial property, which should have been adopted by now, has been delayed, probably until Spring 2011. The Bar has been active in a UK stakeholder group which is inputting suggestions to the Commission, which might conceivably allow the UK to take part, a result that would be welcomed by the Commission and other Member States were it to be achievable.

Rome III - Divorce - Enhanced Cooperation
The EU institutions are aiming to adopt by year's end a proposed regulation under enhanced cooperation, which would bind the 14 participating Member States to its somewhat limited rules on applicable law in divorce and legal separation. The UK is not taking part. See:  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5849082    

Roadmap of Procedural Rights for Suspects and Defendants - Progess
Measure A - the directive enshrining the right to translation and interpretation, has been adopted in Council, becoming the first-ever enforceable EU defence measure. See: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/116913.pdf. Measure B - The proposed Letter of Rights (Procedure reference COD (2010)0215) may be the subject of Council agreement by year's end.

Measures C & D -- the right to legal assistance, and the right to communicate with family members, etc, should be the subject of Commission proposals as of mid-2011.

Exchange of Criminal Evidence - European Investigation Order
The mid-November JHA Council included a fruitful discussion on this April 2010 Member State initiative, more details of which can be seen at: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st15/st15531.en10.pdf          

European Protection Order
In January 2010, 12 EU Member States jointly proposed a directive aimed at protecting actual or potential victims of crime, who move between EU Member States. (Reference COD(2010)0802) The EP is supportive and is expected to adopt the directive in December, with the Council not far behind.

Consultation on Detention in 2011
The Green Paper consultation on all matters relating to detention, which is listed in the Stockholm Programme Action Plan, is likely to be launched in April 2011.

Implementing Mutual Recognition in Criminal Matters
The JHA Council has adopted conclusions intended to pave the way for better follow-up and cooperation between the institutions, Member States and relevant agencies to ensure better implementation and practical application of these measures. See: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st13/st13403-re01.en10.pdf         

Rights of the Child
Earlier this year, the Commission issued a Communication on the rights of the child, as part of its preparation of a new EU strategy to be adopted next year for 2011-2014. The Criminal Bar Association and the Family Law BA both contributed to a combined Bar Council response to the consultation,  which can be seen on the Bar Council website: http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/consultations/pastresponsestoexternalconsultations/        

Review of the Implementation of the Services Directive
As part of this ongoing review, the Commission conducted a public consultation on national implementing measures of Directive 2006/123/EC. See: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2010/services_directive_en.htm.  The EP's Internal Market Committee has published a report it commissioned on same: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201009/20100930ATT84040/20100930ATT84040EN.pdf          

EU Patent - Council Pushing for Agreement on the Language Regime
The Competitiveness Council has met several times this autumn, specifically to try to achieve end-of year agreement on the Belgian EU Presidency  "compromise" on the proposed three-language regime for the EU patent.  For the compromise text, enter document reference 15395/10 in the search engine at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/showPage.aspx?id=549&lang=EN

Combating Late Payments in Commercial Transactions
Based on a prior EP and Council agreement, in late October the EP Plenary adopted the proposal for a directive to combat late payments,  imposing a 30-day limit, raised to up to 60 days if both parties agree; and providing for interest and compensation payments. By Christmas, the Council should also have adopted it. See: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2010-0374

House of Lords Inquiry on the Working of the CJEU
The House of Lords recently conducted an inquiry into the working practices of the Court of Justice of the EU, in particular in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty expansion of its jurisdiction. The Bar has responded, focusing on delicate issues of language and translation; and the overall need to speed all relevant procedures. We await their Lordships' conclusions with interest. See: www.parliament.uk/hleue.

Consultation - Securities Harmonisation
The European Commission is working on a draft Directive on legal certainty of securities holding and transaction, intended for adoption early next year, with a view to finalising the EU legislative process during 2012.  It is conducting a public consultation on the topic, closing date 1 January 2011. Relevant Bar bodies have been informed. See: http://ec.europa.eu/internalmarket/consultations/2010/securities_en.htm

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!