Free circulation of public documents: cutting red tape for citizens

Council of the EU
  • 10/03/2016
  • 13:30
  • Press release
  • 118/16
  • Justice
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On 10 March 2016, the Council adopted its position at first reading on a regulation which will facilitate the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the EU. 

The regulation will avoid the need for administrative formalities, such as legalisation or apostille which national authorities still require for certain public documents issued by another Member State, such as documents related to civil status matters (births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships, etc.) or those 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. 

In order to overcome language barriers, the regulation also establishes multilingual standard forms to be used as a translation aid attached to some of the public documents the most frequently used in a cross-border context.

"With the adoption of this new set of rules, we are effectively cutting red tape for European citizens. Simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents will greatly simplify the daily lives of those citizens who are affected by cross-border issues", said Ard van der Steur, the Minister for Justice of The Netherlands and President of the Council.

The European Parliament is expected to vote in second reading at a plenary session very soon, thus approving the Council's position at first reading without amendments and ending the legislative process. Afterwards, the legal text will be published in the EU Official Journal.