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Improving judicial cooperation across Europe

An EU project has developed a secure e-delivery system that judicial services across Europe can use to handle and exchange information on civil, commercial and even criminal matters. The solution will help public administrations meet new EU regulations on how judicial information is delivered.
Improving judicial cooperation across Europe
‘A number of large scale pilot (LSP) projects with Member States had already been launched in a number of other domains to help public services, but not in justice,’ explains E-CODEX project coordinator Carsten Schmidt from the Ministry of Justice of North Rhine-Westphalia. ‘We saw that there was a real need here to offer proof of technical solutions that could facilitate the fast and secure exchange of judicial information between countries.’

The mobility of people and business within the EU is on the rise, making relationships and cooperation between different national judicial systems more complex. The E-CODEX project aimed to tackle this 'complexity' with smarter, streamlined use of ICT solutions that help citizens, companies, administrations, and legal professionals cope with new situations requiring redress.

In order to accomplish this, the project further developed and tested an e-transport infrastructure initiated by other LSPs in the specific judicial sector. ‘A key concept was that we should build on solutions developed in previous EU-funded projects, and then ensure that our results can be used going forward,’ says Carsten Schmidt. ‘Projects like SPOCS have previously worked on secure e-transport infrastructure, so what we proposed was building on this to develop a common e-delivery solution that could be used for secure applications.’ This concept has since fed into the major (and also CIP-funded) e-SENS project, which has sought to reuse results across a number of domains to create a common infrastructure.

Civil and criminal cases

‘We were able to show that our e-delivery system could handle regular judicial information relating to civil and commercial matters, where security requirements are not that high,’ says Carsten Schmidt. ‘We also successfully piloted some criminal justice cases, and were able to ensure that information could be exchanged in a secure and reliable way for these as well.’

Civil cases involved issues such as European payment order procedures, small claims procedures and the registering of businesses. Pilot involving criminal justice cases demonstrated how the infrastructure could facilitate cross-border legal assistance and help prosecutors get information from other member states and send legal requests electronically in order to get immediate responses. The project also underlined that information sent and received electronically can be archived and accessed far more easily. ‘We demonstrated that real benefits can be realised immediately,’ says Carsten Schmidt.

Transforming justice in Europe

The project was completed in the summer of 2016 and since then a bridge project has been underway to help public administrations implement E-CODEX infrastructure in close cooperation with the CEF Telecom programme. In view of the implementation of the Business Registry Interconnect System, it is now a legal requirement; e-infrastructure has to be mandatorily used as a means of interconnecting different judicial systems, and countries are obliged to have something in place by June 2017. This came from a directive related to business registers and a request in the European Council, where Member States wanted to put in place a legal basis that sustains the outcomes of the E-CODEX project.

‘We’ll be expected an explosion of activity, with millions of legal transactions taking place across this network,’ says Carsten Schmidt. ‘The Commission is now very interested in implementing this infrastructure for criminal justice sector across all member states.’ The bridge project ends in 2018, whereupon all technical assets are planned to be handed over to the EU-LISA agency in Tallinn, Estonia. In this way, the E-CODEX infrastructure will continue to be rolled out across Europe, connecting judicial systems and dramatically improving the efficiency of European legal services.

Related information


E-CODEX, E-SENS, judicial, EU-LISA, legal, criminal justice
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