e-CODEX: Future-proofing cross-border judicial communication 

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  • e-CODEX is set to become the preferred digital tool for secure cross-border judicial exchange of information 
  • The system improves access to justice for EU citizens and businesses  
  • Safeguards added to ensure admissibility of electronic documents, compliance with GDPR and respect for fundamental rights  

As a part of the ongoing digitalisation of EU justice, e-CODEX is set to gain long-term funding and a new governance structure.

On Thursday, members of the Legal Affairs (JURI) and Civil Liberties (LIBE) committees approved the proposed regulation to reform the management and financing of e-CODEX, a data transfer system used for electronic transmission of information and documents in cross-border civil and criminal proceedings. The draft negotiating mandate was adopted with 79 votes in favour and 3 against.

The system aims to improve the efficiency of cross-border communication and increase mutual trust between EU judicial authorities as well as facilitate access to justice for citizens and businesses. The e-CODEX system should therefore be the preferred solution for an interoperable, secure and decentralised communication network between national IT systems in the area of cross-border judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters.

A consortium of member states and organisations has been in charge of managing e-CODEX, but the system lacked legal clarity at EU level and was not used by all member states. Once this regulation is adopted, the e-CODEX system will be formally established at EU level and directly applicable in all member states. The management of the system will be handed over to EU’s Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA).

The adopted amendments widen the possibility of using e-CODEX to all proceedings in criminal and civil matters. With its draft negotiating position, MEPs want to make sure that the use of e-CODEX complies at all times with EU data protection rules and that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons implicated in the exchange of information are respected, such as the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial.

MEPs also introduced safeguards, such as the e-Justice Core Vocabulary, to make sure that interoperability of the system is not challenged by terminology issues. The possible participation of international organisations and third countries is also envisaged.

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Co-rapporteur Emil Radev (EPP, BG) said: “The e-CODEX system is becoming a facilitator for more accessible and cost-effective judicial procedures, i.e. procedures that save people effort, time and costs. We therefore need to ensure it is used in as many proceedings as possible and to create conditions for good connectivity between the various judicial bodies, ensuring the long-term sustainability and effective management of the e-CODEX system.

Co-rapporteur Nuno Melo (EPP, PT) said: “With this system, lawyers would be able to directly and electronically access, communicate and exchange documents with courts of member states. The experience achieved through the e-CODEX project will undoubtedly open the doors to future initiatives in the field of electronic judicial interaction across borders. This is the beginning of a new era in which law and technology will interact more and more, helping European citizens access justice.”