Brussels News June 2011

Date for your diary: "Justice in Times of Austerity" - London, 20 June 2011
The Bar Council is hosting a seminar entitled  "Justice in Times of Austerity" at the Inns of Court in London on the evening of 20 June 2011, at which Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights, will give the keynote speech. There will be a panel discussion chaired by Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty). Details are available on the CBA, FLBA and Bar Council's websites. All welcome!

Chairman's visit to Brussels, 29 - 30 March, 2011
The Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales,  Peter Lodder QC, was in Brussels for a successful series of meetings promoting the interests of the Bar at EU level, organised by the Bar Council's Brussels Office, on 28 - 29 March.

Commission consultation on justice funding programmes
The Commission is consulting the public until mid-June on its future policy on sectoral funding programmes in the justice and fundamental rights fields, to apply post-2013. The Bar will respond.  See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/news/consulting_public/news_consulting_0010%5Fen.htm

European Contract Law - consultation on the work of the expert group
The Bar is responding to the consultation on the Feasibility study produced by the Commission's expert group, published on 3 May, with a short deadline of 1 July: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/policies/consumer/docs/explanatory_note_results_feasibility_study_05_2011_en.pdf.

EU consumer and small- and medium-sized enterprise representatives are not happy with the Commission's plans. See, for example:
http://www.europolitics.info/smes-andconsumers-opposed-to-european-instrumentart303040.html.

Consumer Rights Directive -Trialogue negotiations continue
At the time of writing the most recent publicly available overview of political progress on this important horizontal framework consumer protection proposal can be found at: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/11/st07/st07650.en11.pdf.

Brussels I regulation review proposal
The UK and Ireland have both confirmed their participation in the Commission's proposal on the review of regulation 44/2001 on recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. There remain many areas of controversy,  including the extent of the abolition of exequatur,  the safeguards needed, the exclusion or otherwise of arbitration, and the regulations' third country application.

EU horizontal consultation on collective redress
By the time of reading, the Bar will have responded to this Commission consultation, re-exploring the possibilities for extending private enforcement of claims against breaches of EU law, through collective redress. The Commission held a well attended public hearing on the subject in early April. See generally:
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dgs_consultations/ca/collective_redress_consultation_en.htm.

Matrimonial property regulations -proposals adopted
In March, the Commission adopted two separate proposals to regulate the private international law rules applying to the property consequences of a relationship breakdown between (international)  spouses and registered partnerships. By the time of reading, the UK should have indicated whether or not it will opt-in. The answer is expected to be negative.

Identification and freezing of debtor's assets
The European Parliament has enthusiastically adopted an own-initiative report asking the Commission to adopt a regulation, suggestions for which are included in an annex to the report,  creating two free-standing remedies for crossborder cases:

  • European order for the preservation of assets (EOPA), and
  • European order for the disclosure of assets (EODA).

The Bar made similar suggestions in its response to the 2008 Commission Green Paper.  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2011-0147&language=EN&mode=XML.

Imminent EU action on victims' rights
In May, the Commission was expected to table a first package of legislative and non legislative proposals aimed at enhancing the protection of victims in the EU, preceding a wider resolution, to be adopted, entitled "Roadmap for strengthening the rights and protection of victims, in particular in criminal proceedings."

Roadmap of Procedural Rights for suspects and defendants - update
Measure B - The right to information  (COD(2010)0215) is due for final adoption by the Council and EP in late June and early July respectively.

Measure C - the right to legal assistance - a proposal should be available by the time of reading. The right to legal aid (Measure D) is expected to be the subject of a proposal in the spring of 2012.

Commission report on the operation of the European Arrest Warrant
The Commission has published its 3rd report on the implementation in the Member States
and operation in practice of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), covering the period since 2007.  See: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/policies/criminal/extradition/docs/com_2011_175_en.pdf.

State aid rules reform - services of general economic interest
The Commission has adopted a Communication on the Reform of the EU State Aid Rules on Services of General Economic Interest. See: http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=200281.

Common Corporate tax base?
In mid March, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive creating a common consolidated corporate tax base. See:  http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=200263.

Small Business Act Review
The Commission has adopted a communication setting out a comprehensive review of the Small Business Act for Europe, in which it describes its own plans, and what it expects of the member states, in furtherance of its "Think small first" campaign supporting SMEs in the EU. See: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0078:FIN:EN:PDF.

Green Paper on Corporate Governance
The Commission is consulting the public on how to improve the way publicly traded companies are managed and provide better protection for shareholders. The deadline for responses is 22 July 2011.  http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=200322.

Single Market Act
The Commission has issued a new Communication entitled "Single Market Act - Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confi dence". "Working together to create new growth".  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=9986883.

Review of Professional qualifications directive 2005 - consultation
The Bar Standards Board responded, as the independent regulator, to the Commission public consultation on its planned review and modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC).  http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2011/professional_qualifications_en.htm.

VAT consultation
The Bar should, by the time of reading, have responded to the Commission public consultation in anticipation of its planned communication looking at simplifying and streamlining the VAT system EU wide.  See:  http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/consultations/tax/2010_11_future_vat_en.htm.

EU Patent - EP green light for enhanced cooperation
The Commission has adopted proposals, paving the way for creation of the EU patent, one on enhanced cooperation and the other on the language arrangements: http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=200371.