The author of this post is Michele Casi, Post-doc, DILHPS Università degli Studi di Milano, and researcher involved in the EFFORTS (Towards more EFfective enFORcemenT of claimS in civil and commercial matters within the EU) project.
The Final Conference of the EFFORTS Project (JUST-JCOO-AG-2019-881802) took place on 30 September 2022 at the Sala Napoleonica of the Università degli Studi di Milano. More than 160 participants attended the Conference, either online and in presence.
Francesca Villata, Coordinator of the Project, opened the conference by outlining the scope, the objectives, and the results of the EFFORTS Project.
The challenges that the EFFORTS Project has aimed at addressing include gaps and divergences in Member States implementing legislation and enforcement procedures, the lack of transparency in the overall system of cross-border enforcement, the lack of (mutual) trust, and the limited use of the EFFORTS Regulations. The objectives of the Project have been tackled by dialoguing with operators, sharing good practices, drafting analytical activities and testing the outcomes, with the help of the Academic Advisory Board, the Stakeholders Cross-Border Committee, the National Working Groups and a Professional Evaluator.
At its core, the Project has produced a wide variety of outputs that:
(i) identify the difficulties users encounter and how the practice is addressing them (seven Reports on national implementing rules, seven Reports on national case-law, seven National Exchange Seminars, one International Exchange Seminar, one Report on practices in comparative and cross-border perspective, and one Report on the digitalization of the enforcement procedures and of cross-border cooperation);
(ii) provide support and guidance (Bilingual Practice Guides for the application of the EFFORTS Regulations in the targeted Member States, complemented by Annexes on national enforcement procedures, for a total of 35 Guides and seven Annexes, seven Policy Recommendations for national legislators and one EU Policy Guidelines); and
(iii) spread awareness, knowledge and trust (see further the Project’s website, the Project LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, the Final Conference, the Final Study (soon available on the website) and the EFFORTS Network).
The presentations of the Final Conference were divided into three panels, respectively chaired by Ilaria Viarengo (Director of the Department of International, Legal, Historical and Political Studies of the Università degli Studi di Milano), Burkhard Hess (Director of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law), and Fausto Pocar, (Emeritus of International Law, Private International Law and European Law at the Università degli Studi di Milano).
During the conference, the speakers discussed a wide variety of topics relating to the cross-border enforcement of claims in civil and commercial matters within the EU, concerning the EFFORTS Regulations – Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 (Brussels I bis), Regulation (EC) No 805/2004 on the European Enforcement Order (EEO), Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 on the European Payment Order (EOP), Regulation (EC) 861/2007 on the European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP), and Regulation (EU) 655/2014 on the European Account Preservation Order (EAPO) – such as: the certification of judgments, the effectiveness of the regulations on cross-border enforcement and national implementing rules, the suspension of the enforcement proceedings under the Regulations, the digitalization of cross-border enforcement procedures, cross-border provisional measures and the European Account Preservation Order, policy options for the re-drafting of the EFFORTS Regulations, and many others.
The discussion benefited from the interaction between national legislators, judges, lawyers, academics, in-house counsels, notaries and enforcing agents, showing once again the EFFORTS Project’s practice-driven approach and the interest of various professionals. In fact, to give one example, during the final debate the case of a lawyer working in the field of commercial cross-border transactions was brought up. The case concerned the payment of invoices, and the lawyer would advise his client to proceed in obtaining an Italian decreto ingiuntivo di pagamento rather than using the EOP procedure. According to the discussion, the Italian order for payment would be more convenient considering that the procedure is more familiar to practitioners and could be later certified for enforcement under one of the other EFFORTS Regulations (under Article 53 Brussles I-bis or as an EEO).
This observation meets, at its core, one of the issues that have been discussed amongst the EFFORTS research groups, and has been reflected in the EFFORTS EU Policy Guidelines: i.e. the differentiation among the existing Regulations. In order to expand ‘the role of uniform European procedures in this area of the law‘, it has been observed, ‘domestic orders for payment procedures would need to be excluded from the scope of the BI bis (n.n. Brussels I bis) and EEO Regulations – a solution which would at the same time reduce the difficulties related to the existence of a wide variety of simplified procedures across the different Member States and encourage economic operators to turn themselves to the EPO and the ESCP‘ (page 28 of the Report). This has further confirmed the practice-driven approach that has shaped the EFFORTS Project’s objectives and results during its implementation.
The activities of the conference lasted the entire day and included several presentations as well as formal and informal discussions and Q&A from the participants, showing that the topics presented at the Conference have captured the attention and the interest of the public.
The contents extensively discussed at the Final Conference will be reflected in the upcoming and conclusive deliverables of the Project: the EU and national Policy Recommendations and the Final Study, soon to be published on the Project’s website.