Opening speech vice dean Fabian Amtenbrink – conference “From common rules to best practices in European Civil Procedure”

Speech of vice dean Fabian Amtenbrink (Erasmus School of Law) delivered on 25 February 2016 to open the conference “From common rules to best practices in European Civil Procedure”

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

On behalf of Erasmus School of Law, a warm welcome to the many distinguished speakers and participants from Europe and beyond conference “From common rules to best practices in European Civil Procedure”

Special welcome to our colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law in Luxembourg, co-organisers of this conference. In particular a warm welcome prof. Burkhard Hess, director of the Institute.

My name is Fabian Amtenbrink and I am the vice dean of Erasmus School of Law.

I am happy to welcome you on this campus and in the city of Rotterdam. A city which The New York Times and the trendy Rough Guide have identified as one of the ten towns you need to visit on this planet, and here you are!

Now that is of course not the primary reason why you all have gathered here today. What you have come for is to discuss developments in the area of the European civil procedures.

With the creation of a legal framework in the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community for the establishment of a common market, arguably also the foundation for cooperation in the filed of civil justice between the Member States was laid. In fact the establishment of an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured is hard to conceive unless natural and legal persons can not rely on the effective functioning of the civil justice system across what is now the European Union.

Still it only more recently, that is after the introduction of relevant legal bases for the EU to legislate in this area, that the cooperation on civil justice matters between the Member States has proliferated and has become entrenched in the internal market framework.

The enforcement of the principle of mutual recognition by the 1999 European Council of Tampere was another important step in this regard. Under the influence of this principle civil justice cooperation has become more than just a tool to realize the economic objective of fostering cross-border trade. Access to justice in all cases and for all types of litigants is seen as a conditio sine qua non for the creation of a genuine European Area of Justice, founded on mutual trust between the Member States.

Of course, mutual trust between Member States is something that seems to be at large these days in other major EU policy fields and even mobility in the internal market can be taken for granted anymore after last week’s so-called new settlement with the UK!

Be that as it may, …

These political and legal developments have given rise to a wide-ranging harmonisation effort in civil justice matters addressing not only classical themes of international jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of judgments, but increasingly shaping the entire area of civil procedure.

For the organizers of this conference the next step now, and therefore the topics of today's and tomorrow’s sessions, is how to put these common norms into practice effectively.

It is for this reason that this conference brings together experts in the field of civil justice, from academia, government, the courts, and legal practice so to facilitate in-depth discussion and sharing of knowledge, practical experiences, and solutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It makes a lot of sense that the Erasmus School of Law hosts this conference, if I may say so in all modesty.

The conference is geared towards combining policy perspectives and a high level of academic debate on topical issues with a focus on the practical application of EU procedural law in the Member States.

It is our conviction here in Rotterdam that law cannot be considered in splendid isolation or as an end in itself, but is imbedded in an economic and social context. This conference, bringing together insights from experts working in the field of civil justice, as all the necessary ingredients to greatly contribute to the development of workable and effective legislation which in turn will aid the efficacy and reliability of civil justice in Europe for businesses as well as individual citizens. As a law school and research institute we are committed to teach conduct innovative research on the function of law in its economic and social context.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me conclude by wish you all very fruitful discussions and many new insights!

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