Committee guide: Brexit to bring fresh challenges for JURI

Written by Pavel Svoboda on 18 April 2017 in Opinion

Parliament's legal affairs committee has achieved considerable success in the first half of this mandate, but with Brexit come fresh challenges, says Pavel Svoboda.

Pavel Svoboda | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

The report on civil law rules on robotics has received an extraordinary amount of attention, including outside the EU, in the US and Japan. It is an illustration of what the European Parliament can achieve by way of evidence-based legislation, thanks to its new directorate general for research, which includes a scientific foresight unit, and its IT specialists.

This resolution is just what Parliament should be doing, proposing legislative initiatives about matters of deep societal concern, such as artificial intelligence, about which MEPs can inform themselves thoroughly through the expertise made available to them by specialists in the research service. 

The next step is a public consultation which has just been launched online. The intention is to follow this up with an impact assessment.

Other achievements are the trademark package and the shareholders' rights revision directive. The most visible feature of the trademark package the change of OHIM's name to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the change from “community trade mark' to 'European Union trademark'.

In the coming years, the country-by-country tax reporting file - which is being dealt jointly with the economic affairs committee - and the Insolvency dossiers will be two of our main challenges.

In the field of civil justice cooperation, the committee is currently dealing with two particularly important and challenging files: one consists of a legislative initiative report for minimum standards of civil procedure. 

This initiative is the result of a long and systematic work by our committee and the proposed minimum standards are seen as a sine qua non for citizens' and businesses' effective access to justice, increased mutual trust between member states' judiciaries as well as economic prosperity and sustainability in the internal market.

The second file focuses on the Commission proposal for the recast of the Brussels IIa regulation concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility.

Brussels IIa has undoubtedly been a successful Union instrument that has benefitted EU citizens through the creation of a wide-ranging scheme of jurisdictional and recognition and enforcement rules in parental responsibility cases. The proposed changes in the recast proposal are aimed at improving the effectiveness of child return procedures.

The copyright reform is another ongoing file and a priority for the second half of the legislature. This proposal aims to adapt the EU legislative framework on copyright to the digital environment. 

It introduces, among other elements, new mandatory exceptions or limitations to copyright in three specific cases: 1) for the use of text and data mining technologies in the field of scientific research; 2) for the use of works for illustration for teaching purposes, and 3) in order to allow cultural heritage institutions to perform acts of preservation of their collections.

I think that dealing promptly with all legislative proposals that come from the Commission, while at the same time performing our horizontal responsibilities in the field of immunities, litigation and verification of legal bases in an efficient and systematic fashion, are our constant challenge.

But we also have to ensure that the Commission follows up on the legislative initiatives requested by Parliament (robotics, adoptions, vulnerable adults).

More specifically, intellectual property rights issues and digital contracts - and in particular copyright reform and IPR enforcement - are among the most controversial topics that Parliament has been discussing ever since the beginning of the mandate; the adoption of the copyright package will be a real challenge.

Brexit has already had and will have a big impact on the committee's work. We are responsible for the interpretation, application and monitoring of Union law and compliance of Union acts with primary law, so it is also our responsibility to make sure that the basic principles on which the EU is established are maintained during the process of negotiating the conditions of Brexit. I expect very good cooperation with our colleagues from the constitutional affairs committee. 

Regarding national elections I would only like to say that whatever topics are discussed during the campaign, what matters most is what solutions voters decide to back. And in this regard, I am happy that solutions proposed by Geert Wilders were refused by Dutch voters.

Cutting back on legislative proposals is the current trend in the Commission. While the number of legislative files that the committee is dealing with at the moment is more limited compared to previous legislative terms, we have used Parliament's right of legislative initiative under article 225 TFEU, and have authored many own initiative and implementation reports pointing out possibilities for revision of existing instruments in the areas of our competence.

The European Parliament, without any doubt, has the most transparent working methods of all the institutions. In addition, JURI hosts a large number of visitors to its meeting and its meetings are web streamed.

Our website affords access to our documents and to our newsletter, the JUTI Report, which has a large number of subscribers.

We hold numerous hearings and workshops, which representatives of civil society are invited to attend and to express their views. I would also mention the fact that we are holding two online consultations - on robotics and artificial intelligence and on our proposal for a regulation on a law of administrative procedure. 

JURI has always cared passionately about making the internal market work better for citizens, professionals and business through improvements to civil law. It is my attention to continue with this work and to continue to involve our voters and stakeholders in our work.


About the author

Pavel Svoboda (EPP, CZ) is Chair of Parliament's legal affairs committee

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