New EU rules to ease free movement for citizens by making it simpler to prove the authenticity of documents such as birth or marriage certificates in another EU member state were voted by Parliament on Thursday. To avoid any need for translation, new multilingual EU forms are to be attached to the documents. The vote endorsed an informal deal previously struck by Parliament and Council negotiators.
"More than 14 million EU citizens live in a member state other than their home state. To marry, to declare the birth of a child or to prove a clean criminal record, they are forced to deal with tedious procedures. With today's vote, we have taken a first step towards reducing these bureaucratic hurdles, by abolishing the costly and burdensome 'apostille' requirement and introducing multilingual standard forms", said rapporteur Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU) during the plenary debate.
"Despite the opposition of a part of the Council, an important review clause refers to various documents, such as university diplomas or disability certificates, that could not be included in the scope of the rules at this stage. This text is the first step in a long process, the final aim of which is to have common public documents within the EU", she added.
The new rules would do away with administrative formalities such as the “legalization” or “apostille” certification of “public” documents such as those proving civil status, parenthood or nationality. MEPs and the Council had agreed to extend the rules’ scope to include documents proving the capacity to marry or to enter into a registered partnership. Documents certifying the absence of a criminal record would also be accepted in other EU member states without further legalization procedures.
Furthermore, the rules would also cover documents that citizens living in another member state must produce if they wish to vote and/or stand as candidate in European or municipal elections in the member state where they reside.
New multilingual forms
To avoid the need to translate certain public documents, the rules would also introduce new multilingual EU forms to be attached to documents. These documents concern: birth, being alive, death, marriage (including capacity to marry and marital status), registered partnership (including capacity to enter into a registered partnership and registered partnership status), domicile and/or residence, and absence of a criminal record. These multilingual standard forms should save citizens money and time by avoiding the need for certified translations.
Obligation to inform citizens
To ensure that citizens are aware of the simplified procedures and new multilingual forms, MEPs secured a provision requiring the EU Commission and member states inform citizens of the new rules through websites and e-Justice Portal.
Review after two years: extend the scope of the new rules?
MEPs also secured a provision that would allow the new rules to be extended after two years to cover public documents relating to the legal status and representation of a company, diplomas and other evidence of formal qualifications, and public documents attesting an officially recognized disability, in the light of a review that must also assess the appropriateness of establishing new multilingual forms in future.
The regulation will soon be published in the EU Official Journal and be brought into effect gradually, so as to apply in full from 2019.
The public documents covered by the proposed regulation are those the primary purpose of which is to establish one of the following facts: birth, that a person is alive, death, name, marriage (including capacity to marry and marital status), divorce, legal separation or marriage annulment, registered partnership (including capacity to enter into a registered partnership and registered partnership status), dissolution of a registered partnership, legal separation or annulment of a registered partnership, parenthood, adoption, domicile and/or residence, nationality or absence of a criminal record.
Furthermore, it covers public documents the presentation of which can be required of citizens of the Union residing in a member state of which they are not nationals who wish to vote or stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament or in municipal elections in their member state of residence.
The proposed rules create, in addition, multilingual standard forms to ease translation for several documents. For these documents, a translation will no longer be required. They concern: birth, being alive, death, marriage (including capacity to marry and marital status), registered partnership (including capacity to enter into a registered partnership and registered partnership status), domicile and/or residence, and absence of a criminal record.