Matthias Weller, ‘Mutual Trust: In Search of the Future of European Private International Law’

What will EU justice policy look like in 2020? – This is the question the European Commission posed at the Assises de la Justice, “a forum to shape the future of EU Justice Policy” held at Brussels on 21-22 November 2013, under the leitmotif of “building trust in justice systems in Europe”. In its press release of 11 March 2014, the Commission again referred to mutual trust as a cornerstone of judicial co-operation in the EU, and submitted several statements and memoranda with a view to the European Council on 26 and 27 June 2014. And indeed, the European Council confirmed that “the smooth functioning of a true European area of justice with respect for the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States is vital for the EU. In this regard, mutual trust in one another’s justice systems should be further enhanced”.

This text seeks to establish firmer ground in the search for the future of European private international law as a cornerstone for the implementation of the European Union’s vision of judicial co-operation in civil-matters. It unfolds possible meanings and functions of the rather opaque, yet almost omnipresent buzzword of mutual trust in the European policy-making on private international law. In a first step, the potential role of mutual trust in private international law in general will briefly be considered (II.). The main focus, of course, will be on European law (III). The law of the European Union will be analyzed first on the level of primary law (1). On this level, firstly, the rather abstract question will be addressed what to trust in (a). Secondly, and more concretely, the functioning of the fundamental freedoms and their structural repercussions on European choice of law thinking will be considered insofar as it revolves around a mutual “recognition” of legal relationships (b). On the level of secondary law (2). it will be considered (a) the normative system of judicial co-operation in civil matters in light of mutual trust, (b) the operation of that normative system by the European Court of Justice in recent and telling cases, (c) challenges for this normative system from European Human Rights as well as (d) challenges from the Commission’s 2014 proposal for reacting to systemic deficiencies in the administration of justice in a Member State. Finally (e), suggestions will be submitted how these challenges could be integrated into the normative system. The last part (IV) will sum up insights from the deconstruction of the multifaceted term of “mutual trust”.

Weller, Matthias, Mutual Trust: In Search of the Future of European Private International Law (December 12, 2014). Journal of Private International Law, Issue 1, 2015 forthcoming.

First posted 2014-12-16 07:46:28

Leave a Reply