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Minister Šturm discusses the programme of Slovenia’s Presidency with members of the European Parliament

The President of the Council of the EU for Justice and Home Affairs, Dr Lovro Šturm, presented the programme of Slovenia's Presidency today at the Committee for Legal Affairs of the European Parliament (JURI). The presentation of the programme was followed by questions from members of Parliament.

“The presentation of priorities is a historic moment for Slovenia as the first presiding Member State from those which acceded to the European Union in 2004, as well as for the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and myself,” said Minister Šturm in Brussels.

The visit to the JURI Committee is important because the committee is competent for the legal protection of rights and competences of the European Parliament, including its participation in proceedings before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance. Furthermore, the Committee is competent for acts of the Community influencing the legislation of Member States. These are acts from the fields of civil and commercial law, corporate law, intellectual property law and procedural law, as well as environmental liability and sanctions against environmental crime. Today's debate at the Committee focused on inherited agendas which the Committee should discuss or give an opinion on.

In his presentation the Minister stressed, among other things, the importance of rapid and low-cost access to the services of judicial authorities. One possible mechanism to ensure greater legal security and exercise citizens' rights would be the use of modern information and communication technologies and associated services. Therefore the presidency will support the development of services such as the joint European portal; interlinking in the area of court registers; and the final implementation of modern technologies in judicial practice, such as the use of video conferencing systems and IT implementation of the European payment order. E-justice will be one of the topics at the informal meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs hosted by the Slovenian Presidency in Brdo pri Kranju from 24 to 26 January. Furthermore, the Presidency will organise a conference on information technology with an emphasis on e-justice under the title “E-justice and E-law 2008”, to be held in Portorož in early June 2008.

In addition, the Committee is competent to give opinions concerning the proposed Regulation on maintenance obligation. Slovenia's Presidency will strive for maximum progress, since the recovery of maintenance claims in cross-border cases must be improved. According to the European Commission, as many as 170,000 divorces of partners from different countries occur annually in the EU. This represents 16% of all divorces in the EU. The elimination of procedures for the recognition and enforcement of maintenance decisions from other Member States will facilitate the life of citizens, especially children, who must now pursue maintenance claims in the same way as any other civil or commercial claim. The Minister expressed his hope that Member States will agree about the abolition of all intermediate measures for the recovery of maintenance for all maintenance creditors. This issue, too, will be considered by the ministers at the informal meeting at Brdo in a few days.

The JURI Committee is also competent for environmental crime issues. Environmental protection is one of the principal concerns of the European Union. As regards the violation of environmental protection provisions having a cross-border impact, the Presidency believes that such violations may be best addressed at the Community level. Various approaches of individual Member States enable the violators of national environmental legislation to abuse the regulations for their own benefit; thus a uniform determination of criminal offences providing equivalent criminal and legal protection in the whole Community area is needed.

“The common thread of our priorities in the justice field is instruments where we see direct benefits for the citizens of the European Union, for we believe the EU must facilitate the lives of its citizens. We look forward also to cooperating with the JURI Committee, which plays an important role in forming positions of the European Parliament concerning these matters,” underlined Minister Šturm.


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Date: 22.01.2008