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EU Cooperation With Switzerland, Norway, Iceland


Strengthening co-operation in civil and commercial matters with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland

On 30 October a new Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland was signed in Lugano (Switzerland), in the name of the European Community. This new Convention replaces the 1988 Lugano Convention on the same subject matter.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, stated "This new convention shows the mutual trust we have in each other's judicial systems and allows for more flexible provisions between Members States and Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland, aligned with current EC practice. This will smooth procedures in civil and commercial matters, enhance legal security and consequently facilitate the life of citizens involved in those proceedings".

This new agreement aims to align the Convention provisions with the present European Community legal framework (i.e., the "Brussels Regulation" [1]). As a result of it, the rules for determining jurisdiction of the courts will now be similar in the EU and the EFTA States concerned.

Moreover, the judgments delivered by EU national courts and those of EFTA Member States will be more easily recognised and enforced. confirming the mutual trust which the EC and its EFTA neighbours have in each other's judicial systems.

The signing of the new Convention also marks an important institutional change. As a result of the opinion of the European Court of Justice confirming that these matters come under exclusive Community competence, the Convention is now signed by the Community and will become part of Community law.

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As Vice-President Frattini pointed out: "This is a landmark step in the development of Community external competence".

[1] Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters

ENDS

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