Diana Wallis on Rome II’s Agreement: “A first – in many senses”

Following the agreement on a joint text of the Rome II Regulation reached in the first meeting of the Conciliation Committee, on 15 May (see our post here), Diana Wallis MEP, Rapporteur on Rome II in the European Parliament, has held a press conference to comment the successful outcome of the negotiations.

Excerpts from Mrs Wallis’ statements have been published on her website and on the website of her political group, ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe):

Speaking after last night’s Conciliation meeting between the three EU institutions to hammer out the final text on the Rome II Regulation (the law applicable to non-contractual obligations), the European Parliament’s Rapporteur, Diana Wallis MEP, proclaimed it ‘a first’ – in many senses.

Diana Wallis said, “This is the first time that the EU has put into a Regulation an extensive area of private international law where there was previously no pre-existing international Convention. It is the first time that the European Parliament has had co-decision in this area of civil law – moreover certainly a first in terms of conciliation. Also, a new experience for all the institutions involved in the process – the European Parliament has left its clear mark on the final text agreed last night.”

Diana Wallis was particularly pleased with the result on road traffic accidents, often involving personal injury – the most common and frequent form of tort (non-contractual obligation) that touches the lives of many citizens as they go about their business and leisure pursuits across Europe. She went to say, “The European Parliament has underlined the right of citizens to be fully reimbursed for their loss in such cases despite the national differences in compensation levels, whatever country they come from, whilst also extracting from the Commission a full study in the area by 2008 that ‘would pave the way for a Green paper’.”

“The European Parliament has also sought to introduce some further clarity into the fuzzy thinking as to the relationship between this Regulation relating to choice of law rules and other Internal Market instruments such as the e-commerce Directive. We have certainly ended in a better position than where we started from.”

Diana Wallis welcomed the fact that the Conciliation was also instructive in bringing together three different Commission departments around the table to support the same text in relation to a number of issues. “This coherent joint working across the area of civil and commercial law is to be much welcomed and better late than never.”

Finally Diana Wallis concluded that: “The European Parliament has left its imprint on several other issues, including party autonomy and flexibility to the general rule. It also insisted on several studies being undertaken by the Commission, notably on defamation and the treatment of foreign law, which may leave the way open for future legislation.”

Mrs Wallis’ focus on the role of the European Parliament in drafting legislation in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters has been stressed several times (on Rome II, see our posts here and here), and it is particularly meaningful since at present she is perhaps the most influential MEP involved in the legislative process of EC private international law instruments: she is shadow rapporteur, appointed by the ALDE group, for Rome I, and draftswoman on the maintenance regulation (see her Draft opinion on the Commission’s proposal here).

As regards substantive law, she has been draftswoman for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) for the opinion on the Commission Communication “European Contract Law and the revision of the acquis: the way forward”, and has prepared for the JURI Committee a Draft report with recommendations to the Commission on limitation periods in cross-border disputes involving injuries and fatal accidents.

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