EU Justice Ministers send a signal of unity at Monday’s JHA


Photo: European Union

With Bulgarian Justice Minister Ms Tsetska Tsacheva as chair, EU Justice Ministers on Monday reached an agreement on some of the rules that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to go restart their business if they have gone bankrupt. Together with their colleagues in charge of Home Affairs, they discussed the EU rules on e-evidence and agreed on the EU approach to the latest international developments in the area, thus sending a strong signal of unity at EU level.

The Bulgarian Presidency reached a partial general approach on the Directive on insolvency, restructuring and second chance in line with its initial commitment to move forward on these rules. Today’s agreement covers aspects related to the discharge of debts, to measures to increase the efficiency of procedures and to the collection of data on those procedures. The Bulgarian Presidency will continue working, until the end of June, on the outstanding issues, and hand over the file to its successor to finalise the Council position and conduct negotiations with the European Parliament.

Commenting on today’s success, Ms Tsetska Tsacheva said:

„I will not surprise you if I say that well-functioning insolvency and restructuring systems are of key importance for supporting economic growth and job creation. This legal act on which we reached a partial general approach today, thus allowing the incoming Austrian Presidency to finalize it soon, will increase the opportunities for companies in financial difficulties to restructure early on so as to prevent bankruptcy and avoid laying off staff. It will ensure that entrepreneurs get a second chance at doing business after a bankruptcy. It will also lead to more effective and efficient insolvency procedures throughout the EU.“

The Council held two policy debates. On the recast of the Brussels IIa Regulation the ministers expressed their appreciation for the enormous work done during the Bulgarian Presidency in developing the text of all chapters of the Regulation.

“We decided to put the best interest of the children in cases of exercising parental rights in cross-border cases and in cases of international child abduction on the top of the EU Agenda during our presidency. We worked relentlessly with the Member States and the Commission and succeeded to make evident progress in advancing the Brussels IIa Regulation thus making possible its adoption by the end of this year which would be a huge success for our Trio Presidencies to the benefit of all our citizens”,

Minister Tsacheva underlined.

The progress made during Bulgarian Presidency allowed Ministers to undertake to finalize this complex instrument by the end of 2018. Ministers also gave guidance for the future work on three highly important topics – the circulation of provisional, including protective measures; the placement of a child in another Member State and the abolishment of exequatur. An agreement was reached on the objective to provide more legal certainty and simpler rules for the parties concerned and the competent authorities. The Ministers agreed on the further strengthening of the rules on: the safeguard of the best interest of the child by providing for application of protective measures not only by the court ruling on the exercise of the parental rights and on taking a coordinated decisions between the MS authorities in the cases of placement of the child in another MS different from the habitual residence.  Concerning the exequatur there was enough support to continue the work at technical level in order to achieve a compromise based on the combination of the enforceability of the mainstream and the privileged decisions.

The second policy debate was held on the amended proposal for a Directive on Sales of Goods as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy. Necessary political guidance was provided in order to pave the way for further progress in the negotiations. The ministers agreed that coherence should be sought on the rules governing the rights of the consumers in terms of the embedded content in cases of online and offline sales of goods.

In the joint session, EU ministers of justice and of the home affairs discussed the proposal for a Regulation on E-evidence and reaffirmed the importance to ensure effective and quick mechanisms to collect and use e-evidence. They agreed on the need to explore further the possibilities to enlarge the scope of the instrument with direct access to the material stored in an electronic system and on the interception of electronic communications in real time. With regard to the recent international developments, in particular the adoption of the US CLOUD act, the Council maintained support for a common approach at EU level. This was a strong message of unity.  The Commission is now expected to take further steps to defend the EU interest in that domain in the best way possible.

Ms Tsacheva said:

“It is very important to have a single European position and today we reiterated the view that the European Union needs a common agreement with the US for the application of US CLOUD Act. We tasked the Commission to prepare a draft negotiating mandate as soon as possible. The events are evolving speedily and we have to be prepared to respond quickly and adequately, protecting our unity.”

The Ministers were informed about the progress on the new 2019-2023 e-Justice Strategy and Action Plan.

“The main elements of the draft Strategy have already been shaped which will contribute to the development towards modernisation of justice at national and European level”,

Minister Tsacheva said.

“This topic is a priority for the Trio Presidencies – Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria. The Bulgarian Presidency has worked intensively and advanced the framework and the principles of the draft Strategy and Action Plan which will entail: ensuring sustainability of e-Justice projects, developing the principle of interoperability between Member States' national electronic systems, and preserving the principle of voluntary participation in projects.”

Progress has also been reported on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) and the accession of two new MS to EPPO thanks to the active policy of the Bulgarian Presidency and the European Commission to attract new MS to the enhanced cooperation while preparing EPPO to become operational by 2020.

More information about today’s meeting is available here.

Pictures and videos are here.

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