Citizens and firms moving to another EU country would face less red tape under a draft law passed by Parliament on Tuesday. But this law, which would simplify procedures for proving the authenticity of certain public documents such as birth or marriage certificates, still needs to be approved by EU member states.

“This EU regulation will benefit citizens directly. It will cut back bureaucracy and remove yet another obstacle to a truly transnational and borderless European Union”, said lead MEP Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE), after the vote. “But unfortunately, the Council of Ministers has yet to learn to put citizens first. So Parliament urges the Council to strike a deal to enable citizens to take advantage of these changes”, he added.

The law, which lays down rules for testing the authenticity of public documents, but would not require member states to recognize their contents, was passed by 573 votes to 62, with 44 abstentions.

Fewer administrative formalities

The law would do away with administrative formalities such as the “legalisation” or “apostille” certification of certain public documents, such as those proving civil status, family relationship or intellectual property rights. MEPs want more documents to be covered by simplified procedures and propose for example that educational records, as well as tax and social insurance documents, should be included. MEPs also beefed up rules designed to facilitate acceptance of non-certified copies and translations.

Optional multilingual EU forms

To avoid the need to translate public documents and to help public authorities, the law would introduce new multilingual EU forms which citizens could use instead of national ones to prove birth, death, marriage, registered partnership or the legal status and representation of a company. In addition to these five forms, MEPs amended the proposal to include a further eleven forms concerning name, descent (parents), adoption, non-married status, divorce, dissolution of a registered partnership,  union citizenship and nationality, absence of a criminal record, residence, educational certificate, and disability.


Safeguards against fraud

In the event of reasonable doubt, the authorities would be able to check the authenticity of a document with the issuing authorities, using the existing Internal Market Information System (IMI).


Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), first reading