About the project

IC2BE is an international research project on Cross-Border Litigation in the European Union, fully titled: 'Informed Choices in Cross-Border Enforcement'. The project started on 1 January 2018 and is a follow-up of the successful EUPILLAR project (2014-2016). The project is financed by the European Union under the Civil Justice Programme 2014-2020 and is deemed to be finished by 31 December 2019.

The project is conducted by a consortium coordinated by the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, the other members of the consortium being the Max-Planck-Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law, the University of Antwerp, the University of Madrid (Complutense), the University of Milan, the University of Rotterdam, and the University of Wroclaw.

The project is supposed to examine the functioning of the rules and practices governing the cross-border enforcement of civil judgments in Europe. Its overall objective is the further development of the judicial cooperation in civil matters, which forms part of the objectives of the Civil Justice Programme 2014-2020. To that end, the IC2BE project will screen the regulatory civil justice framework of the EU and the relevant case-law of national courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in matters of cross-border enforcement of judgments. Its main focus is set on the working of the Regulations of the so-called “2nd generation”, i.e.:

  • Regulation (EC) No 805/2004 of 21 April 2004 creating a European Enforcement Order for Uncontested claims (EEO);
  • Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 of 12 December 2006 creating a European Order for payment procedure (EPO);
  • Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP);
  • Regulation (EU) No 655/2014 of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters (EAPO), as well as its implementing Regulation (EU) No 2016/1823 of 10 October 2016 establishing the forms.

Under these regulations, decisions given in a Member State, which are enforceable in that State, shall be enforceable in another Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability (“exequatur”). By contrast, such a declaration is required for decisions given under Regulation No 44/2001 (“Brussels I”). However, that regulation has now been replaced by Regulation No 1215/2012 (“Brussels Ia”), which has also abolished the need for an exequatur. The relationship between that regulation (and, where applicable, the Brussels I Regulation) and the Regulations of the 2nd generation is characterized by the latter’s optional nature: creditors may, within the respective scope of application, freely choose between enforcing a claim under Brussels Ia (or, where applicable, Brussels I) or by means of the 2nd generation Regulations.

The main objectives of the project are
– to analyze how practitioners actually choose between the aforementioned instruments,
– to disseminate knowledge about their application, and
– to raise awareness among practitioners concerning the choice of the appropriate instrument.

On that basis, it is envisaged to answer the following questions:
– Is there still a legitimate practical need for the Regulations of the 2nd generation after the abolition of exequatur in Regulation Brussels Ia?
– Does the fragmentation of the law governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments constitute a burden for the legal practice, or does it, on the contrary, leave a margin for tactical “enforcement shopping”?, and finally
– Does the European law of civil procedure form a coherent body of legal norms or should there be a closer interlinking of the various legal acts?

For the implementation of the project5 the following activities have been, or will be, conducted:

– An English-language database of cases before national courts and the CJEU will be compiled for the period since October 21, 2005. Work on that database has started.
– Interviews with practitioners will be conducted in order to discern their preferred enforcement strategies.
– A number of workshops and a final conference, involving practitioners, policy- makers, and academics have been, or will be, organized. An initial international workshop took place in Luxembourg on February 26, 2018. The first round of national workshops have been held, the second round is yet to come (see 'national workshops')

These activities are supposed to lead to the following results:

– A better assessment of the functioning of the 2nd generation Regulations and an enhanced visibility of these instruments.
– A publicly available database, linked to the E- Justice Portal, which will raise awareness and facilitate informed choices. All results will be properly disseminated to attain as many stakeholders as possible.
– In addition to the database, the main results of the research are intended to be published in a book targeted at an academic audience in which ways to further improve the consistency and effectiveness of the current framework will be proposed.