The Digitalisation of European Union Procedures: A New Impetus Following a Time of Prolonged Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily brought national and cross-border procedures to a standstill. Prior to the pandemic, the use of information and communication technology in court procedures was mostly voluntary and seldom used; although various developments were contemplated, they were slow to be financed and implemented. The pandemic and associated limitations gave digitalisation of procedures, including at the European Union (EU) level, a new impetus and increased authorities’ and professionals’ openness towards technology, including in cross-border judicial cooperation. The measures adopted at the time of writing focus on aspects such as communication between competent national authorities in taking of evidence and service of documents. These are expected to soon be extended to all other EU private international law instruments. In cross-border claims, e-CODEX will be the decentralised information technology system used in this process of facilitating access to justice with digital support. The aim is for identification and certifications of e-signatures and e-identities in this digital environment to be based on the eIDAS Regulation. While all these are welcome developments for facilitating and speeding up access to justice, this paper points out that the process still requires some years for its full implementation and may be exposed to various risks, complexities and challenges. Consequently, the process will not put an end to the EU fragmentation but will work around national and EU realities.