More effective judicial system – towards a European area of civil law
Access to an effective justice system is an essential right, a founding principle of European democracies common to all Member States.
1. More effective justice systems: towards an area of European civil law
The EPP Group has always insisted on the need for increased judicial cooperation between Member States. Effective national justice systems are crucial for the effectiveness of all EU law. EU economic laws play an important role in boosting growth and cross-border trade, and the application of the principle of free movement of persons, goods and services results in an increase in the number of cross-border disputes. The EPP Group has spearheaded:
- The EU-wide civil law protection for victims of stalking, harassment or gender-based violence, affording them the safe exercise of their freedom of movement and the avoidance of time-consuming procedures.
- The creation of a European account preservation order to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial affairs.
- The EU justice scoreboard which assists the EU and its Member States in achieving more effective justice by providing objective, reliable and comparable data on the functioning of judicial systems in EU States.
2. Data protection: defending privacy
Throughout the 2009-2014 legislature, the EPP Group pushed for modernising the current data protection principles by reinforcing individual rights, strengthening the EU internal market, ensuring police and criminal justice cooperation and a proper enforcement of the rules.
- Foundations for a major reform of data protection: In October 2013, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties paved the way for a major reform of the EU legal framework for the protection of personal data, which will affect every citizen and business in Europe. The new rules will provide more safety for EU citizens and boost consumer confidence and entrepreneurship.
The Data Protection Package consists of two pieces of legislation: a General Data Protection Regulation that covers the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data, and a directive on personal data protection that covers the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, as well as the free movement of such data. Notably, the Data Protection Package takes on board the key priorities of the EPP Group such as:
- More control of your data: Enabling the development of services that rely on data, in particular offline and online advertising, without jeopardising citizens' rights to data protection was one of the key issues for the EPP Group. It is essential that people have more control over their own data.
- The ‘right to data portability’: The Group sought to make it easier for people to reuse their data across interoperable applications and control their identity, media and other forms of personal data. By making data portability part of the right to access, the EPP Group made sure that business secrets are not revealed to the user and that only the data that the data subject, i.e. an identifiable person, has provided themselves, are transferred.
- The ‘right to be forgotten’ will help people to better manage data protection risks online, allowing them to delete their data if there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it.
A mandate is given to the European Parliament stakeholders on this issue to continue negotiations with the Council. Depending on the outcome, a vote by the entire plenary could be expected in the spring of 2014.
3. European Citizens’ Initiative:
The Lisbon Treaty introduced a new tool of public participation in EU policy-making, the European Citizens’ Initiative. This new instrument allows one million citizens from at least 7 different Member States to participate directly in the development of EU policies by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal.
The EPP Group added value in the form of the Implementation rules for European Citizens’ Initiative. This is the Regulation on the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI), which implements the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, entered into force on 1 April 2012, providing EU citizens with an innovative tool for participatory democracy, unique worldwide on a transnational scale.
4. EU code of good administrative behaviour
The EPP Group strongly believes that the European civil service must be committed to the values of service, independence, responsibility and accountability. The values of the Group are reflected in the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour that sets the rules for:
- Transparent and consistent inter-institutional relations
- Good administration in EU law
- Complaints by citizens who consider that the way they have been treated is not a reflection of these rules