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EU Rights in the Spotlight – November: Agreement on Free Circulation of Documents in the EU

28 November 2015

The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament approved by 20 votes to 2 on 21 November 2015 a deal struck by Parliament and Council negotiators on new EU rules to facilitate the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in other EU Member States.

The new rules are laid down in a Regulation, which aims at streamlining the procedures for the cross-border presentation of public documents related to civil status matters such as birth, death, marriage and registered partnership, and public documents certifying the absence of a criminal record. The Regulation also covers public documents which EU citizens may be required to present when they wish to vote and/or stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament or in municipal elections.

The new Regulation will avoid the need for legalization or other formalities, and in so doing contribute towards a more accessible EU for its citizens. In addition, the new rules will also introduce new multilingual EU forms to be attached to the public documents in order to avoid de need for translation.

According to MEP Mady Delvaux, rapporteur of this legislation piece at the Parliament, ‘this Regulation is the first step of a longer process where the final goal would be to have common public documents within the EU’.

Next steps

After endorsement of the compromise package by the Legal Affairs Committee, the legal text will come back to the Council in December 2015 for a political agreement, followed by the usual legal-linguistic revision before the formal adoption of the Council’s position at first reading. Afterwards, the text will be put for a vote in second reading at a plenary session of the European Parliament.