On 14 July 2020, Austria ratified the 1965 Hague Service Convention. The Convention is set to enter into force for Austria on 12 September 2020. All EU Member States will then be be bound by the Convention. In practice, the latter will apply in the relationship between the (Members States of the) EU, one the one hand, and some fifty more States worldwide, on the other.
The Austrian ratification comes more than four years after the Council of the European Union issued a decision authorising Austria to sign and ratify, and Malta to accede to, the Convention ‘in the interest of the European Union’.
The Council decision reflects the fact that, as stated in the preamble, the Union ‘has external competence with regard to the Convention in so far as its provisions affect the rules laid down in certain provisions of Union legislation or in so far as the accession of additional Member States to the Convention alters the scope of certain provisions of Union legislation’, such as Article 28(4) of the Brussels I bis Regulation. Still, the Convention ‘does not allow for participation by regional economic integration organisations such as the Union’, meaning that, to make sure that the Convention is in force for all Member States, the Union had no other option but to authorise (and in fact request) the Member States that had not yet done so, to ratify – or accede to, depending on the circumstances – the Convention in the interest of the Union itself.
The Convention is already applicable to Malta as of 17 July 2018.