Brussels News July 2011

"Justice in Times of Austerity"
On 20 June, the Bar Council co-hosted this important seminar at which Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights, gave the keynote speech, responded to by Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Bar. Commissioner Reding's speech is available at:             

Commission updated work programme for the second half 2011
A list of Commission plans for the rest of this year across all fields of competence:           

Commission consultation on justice funding programmes
The Bar responded to the Commission consultation on future funding policy in the Justice field, calling for bureaucratic simplification and alternatives to co-funding.              

European Contract Law - consultation on the work of the Expert group
The Bar responded by the 1 July deadline, to the Commission consultation on its Feasibility study.  The Commission plans to adopt a proposal in mid-October.             

Consumer Rights Directive - EP & Council agreement
The EU institutions have reached agreement on the draft Consumer Rights Directive. See:              

Brussels I regulation review
The EU institutions are negotiating the review of regulation 44/2001 on recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Procedure reference COD (2010)0383).  The Legal Affairs Committee of the EP (JURI) is organising a workshop in September, at which Alexander Layton QC, is again invited to speak.

EU developments on Collective redress
The Bar responded to the Commission's recent consultation on the use of collective redress for private enforcement of claims against breaches of EU law. We support the development of such mechanisms throughout the Member States, but consider that the EU should do no more than issue non-binding guidelines for cross-border claims. See:               

Rome I regulation - assignment review
The European Commission is considering a possible review of the Rome I regulation  (applicable law in contractual matters), looking in particular at the issue of assignment, and eventually, at possible amendments to accommodate the European Contract optional instrument, if the Commission succeeds with its plans in that area.

Review of Rome II - rights of the personality
The Legal Affairs Committee of the EP is progressing its own initiative move to amend Regulation 864/2007 on the law applicable to non contractual obligations. See:               

Regulation on Maintenance Obligations implemented
The UK regulations implementing EU regulation 4/2009 into UK law, recently the subject of a short technical consultation, have now been adopted, though not without controversy. See:           

Proposal for a regulation on conflicts rules in Succession - update
The June JHA Council agreed political guidelines for the future work on the proposed regulation on succession and the creation of a European certificate of succession. See:                

ADR in civil and commercial matters
The European Parliament is encouraging the Commission to explore providing a harmonised legal framework for some aspects of ADR across sectors, while developing existing schemes and encouraging Member States to increase funding.

Roadmap of defence measures - Measure C - right to legal assistance
The Commission has adopted its proposal Measure C: the right to legal assistance and to communicate with a person of the suspect's choice. Measures A and B, the right to translation and interpretation; and letter of rights, have already been finalised. The Commission takes the view that none of these measures should be limited to cross-border cases only. See:             

EU action on Victims' Rights
The Commission has proposed a package of measures to ensure a minimum level of rights,  support and protection for victims across the EU. See:                  

Detention in criminal matters - new Commission consultation
The Commission has launched a consultation on all aspects of detention in criminal matters,  deadline for responses 30 November 2011. The Bar will respond. See:                     

Sexual abuse and exploitation of children
In late June, the EU institutions reached agreement on the March 2010 proposal for a directive on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. It will be formally adopted in the autumn. See:             

Cross-border Property rights - EP launching activities
The Liberal Group in the EP (ALDE) recently organised a seminar on property law and defending the right to property, at which a member of the Bar delivered a paper. ALDE MEPs are intending to pursue EU action in this area.

Credit agreements relating to residential property
The EU institutions are negotiating a March 2011 proposal for a directive aimed at creating a competitive pan-European market in residential mortgages. See:               

A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights
The Commission has adopted a Communication setting out plans for a revamp of EU IPR through a series of initiatives planned for the next three years. See:            

Enhanced cooperation - creation of unitary patent protection
The Council has adopted a general approach on the two main Commission proposals.                 

Call for EU legislation on Insolvency proceedings in Company law
The Legal Affairs Committee of the EP (JURI) is calling on the Commission to adopt one or more legislative proposals creating an EU corporate insolvency framework. See:                 

Evaluation of the Lawyers' Directives
The Commission is this year conducting an evaluation exercise of both the Lawyers' Services Directive EC 77/249 and the Establishment Directive EC 98/5.

Modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive - consultation
The Commission is consulting on the main conclusions of its recent evaluation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (to which the Bar Standards Board contributed). The deadline is 20 September 2011. We may see a revision of the Directive in 2012.           
There will be a Conference in Brussels on 7 November 2011.

Proposal for regulation amending statute of ECJ
The EP is considering the Commission's March 2011 proposal for a regulation amending the statute of the Court of Justice of the EU, and of the General Court, so as to increase efficiency and capacity to deal with the ever-expanding workload. See:           

Electronic publication of the Official Journal
The June JHA Council agreed on the text of a proposed regulation giving legal value to the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union. See:              

Codification of European administrative law?
The EP has made available a note on the principle of good administration in EU law, which concludes that it would be beneficial to the Union administration and Union citizens, were a comprehensive European Administrative law to be adopted. See: