Today, the European Commission is launching an EU-wide interconnection of national insolvency registers by linking up databases from seven Member States: the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Romania and Slovenia -with more countries expected to join at a later stage. This first interconnection will serve as a one-stop shop for businesses, creditors and investors looking to invest in Europe. It will help business leaders and entrepreneurs carry out the same checks as they would when investing in their home country and will also support creditors looking to follow up insolvency cases taking place in another EU Member State – thanks to information being available at one web address: the European e-Justice Portal.
"Access to cross-border insolvency information is crucial for a well-functioning internal market and European area of justice," said Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice. "Businesses are essential to creating prosperity and jobs and if we want investors to place their money in other European countries, insolvency information must be easily accessible, multilingual and transparent. By connecting the insolvency registers to the e-justice portal we will be doing exactly that. Today marks an important step forward in promoting efficient and effective justice to foster economic growth."
Access to EU-wide insolvency registers will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-border insolvency proceedings. The concrete benefits include:
Quicker, real-time access to insolvency information crucial for business decisions through a single point of access;
key insolvency information will be available free of charge, in the languages of the European Union;
clear explanations on the insolvency terminology and systems of the participating Member States will help users to better understand the content.
This pilot project is a first step towards an EU-wide network of insolvency registers. The initiative comes ahead of modernised European insolvency laws (IP/12/1354) that would make it obligatory (48 months after adoption) for Member States to publish key information on insolvency proceedings in electronic insolvency registers. This information must be publicly accessible via the internet and interconnected via the e-Justice Portal. On 6 June this year, Ministers in the Council agreed on a general approach (MEMO/14/397) meaning that the Regulation is expected to be adopted by the end of the year.
The Commission was also required to authorise the linking of national databases on the e-justice Portal, as certain national insolvency registers also provide data of natural persons. The Commission's decision on the protection of personal data on the e-Justice portal was published in the Official journal on the 6th of June this year, and was prepared in consultation with the European Data Protection Supervisor.
The e-Justice Portal is an online one-stop-shop in the area of justice, catering for the needs of a European Single Market and European area of justice. Launched in 2010 (IP/10/956), the Portal makes cross-border justice more accessible to citizens, businesses, and legal practitioners alike. The number of visits to the e-Justice Portal is steadily increasing, with over 1.6 million visits in 2013 (see annex). It provides practical information and links on laws and practices in all Member States, including information on legal aid, judicial training, and videoconferencing, as well as links to various legal databases.
The e-Justice Portal is continuously updated with new information and new features. In addition to the interconnection of insolvency registers, new features will include a sophisticated search tool for cross-border case law, a tool to find a lawyer or notary who speaks your language throughout the Union, and tools to allow direct electronic communication between citizens and courts in other Member States.