EU law: Better results through better application

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The Communication from the European Commission on “EU law: Better results through better application” (C/2016/8600) was published on 19 January 2017 (OJEU, C 18).

This communication covers a wide variety of topics, along with a detailed annex on the “Administrative procedures for the handling of relations with the complainant regarding the application of European Union law”.

Some of the key highlights include the fact that the Commission will support Member States in improving the effectiveness of their national justice systems through justice reforms and judicial training and with EU funds. The EU Justice Scoreboard already provides a comparative overview of the quality, independence and efficiency of national justice systems. It enables to identify shortcomings and best practices.

Training programmes for national judges and other legal professionals will continue to be promoted, as well as cooperation between the Commission and national judges, especially regarding competition rules, environmental legislation and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.

Moreover, the ‘Single Digital Gateway’ will provide a single access point for citizens and businesses to all Single Market-related information, assistance, advice and problem-solving services at EU and/or national level. It will include national and EU-wide procedures needed to operate in the EU, such as SOLVIT (which provides information and assistance to citizens and deals with problems of misapplication of EU law by national authorities in cross-border situations) and the European Consumer Centres Network (which provides advice and assistance to consumers on their rights concerning purchases made in another country or online and on settling relevant disputes with businesses). The SOLVIT network will be upgraded.

Finally, the European Commission will ensure the full application of the EU legislation on mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms play an important role in enabling consumers and traders to resolve their disputes in an easy, fast and inexpensive way without going to court.

The Commission launched an online dispute resolution platform in February 2016 providing EU consumers and traders with a tool to solve their contractual disputes over online purchases through alternative dispute resolution. In the financial sector, the Commission established the Financial Dispute Resolution Network, aiming to facilitate the resolution of cross-border disputes between consumers and financial services providers in financial services.

Other EU legislation provides for common standards on complaints handling and redress mechanisms in all Member States (e.g. Passenger Rights Regulations and European Small Claims Regulation).

(Altalex, 10 April 2017. Article by Emmanuel Guinchard)

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