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Free movement for judgements in EU requires safety valves

Free movement for judgements in the EU requires a long-term trust-building effort, with safety valves as a guarantee, says Eva Storskrubb, Docent at the Department of Law.

Eva Storskrubb is Docent and Researcher at the Department of Law at Uppsala University. We spoke with her recently to learn more about her work. You wrote about free mobility for civil law judgements within the EU in the yearbook Europaperspektiv. What does free movement for judgements mean, exactly?

“It basically means that if someone sues you in a Swedish court, the judgement can be enforced in another EU Member State.”

Why is free movement important?

“Civil law is about relationships within and between entities such as families and companies. These relationships can, for example, be formulated through agreements or contracts that must be interpreted by a court in the event of a dispute. Free movement for civil law judgements is an important part of the EU’s political integration project to create a functioning internal market. But it requires that we trust each other’s legal systems.”

Do the EU countries trust each other now?

“That is a very broad question, but a certain level of trust can be perceived to form the basis for the EU’s judicial cooperation and the rules and regulations we have today concerning the free movement of judgements. However, in a programme explanation that I cite in my chapter, the European Council intimates an awareness that the countries do not fully trust each other’s legal systems.”

Are there any proposals for deepening the integration?

“In order to progress in the integration, the European Commission proposed some time ago to remove the “safety valves” that are in the current legislation. The Commission wants to take away the possibility for courts to refuse to enforce judgements from other EU Member States in limited cases. This basically would mean that the countries’ legal systems would have to blindly trust each other, that there would no longer be any possibility of challenging individual judgements.”

What problems do you see?

“In the yearbook, I argue for a more nuanced line. In today’s political climate, where trust is sometimes lacking, a lot of work is needed to create trust and legitimacy for the countries’ respective legal systems. In the long-term efforts, I believe that safety valves work as a guarantee. They should remain in place so that the system of free movement of judgements can gain legitimacy even when problems arise in individual cases, rather than us just blindly trusting each other.”

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Facts

The Europaperspektiv yearbook is published by the Network for European Studies, a national network structure of Swedish universities. This year’s yearbook is the twentieth volume and is entitled Tilliten i EU vid ett vägskäl (“Trust in the EU at a Crossroads”).

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2017-03-31