Agendas of the Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice

The Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice sees its responsibilities in regard to the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union first and foremost in strengthening a Union of Freedom, Security, and Justice. The following four key topics will play a central role in this context.

Firstly, one goal is a more efficient fight against terrorism and organised crime. This shall be achieved especially by Europe-wide hindrance of money laundering, by more efficient and more severe sanctioning of fraudulent use and falsification of non-cash means of payment, by more efficient and more comprehensive securing and confiscating proceeds of crime and by more expeditious cross border access to electronic evidence abroad. The following Union legal acts should be used to achieve these results:

  • a proposal for a Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law,
  • a proposal for a Directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment,
  • proposals for a Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders for criminal proceeds,
  • and two legislative proposals (Regulation and Directive) in the area of “e-evidence” (improved cross-border access to electronic evidence.

Secondly, another goal is the realisation of the Digital Single Market. This is a priority also on a European level, guaranteeing better access of consumers to digital products and services all over Europe. This shall be achieved, e.g. by

  • a copyright law facilitating online-access to creative contents,
  • more convenience for companies through digital solutions during the entire life cycle of a company (use of digital tools and procedures),
  • and sustainable establishment of e-codex (e-Justice Communication via Online Data Exchange) for the cross-border exchange of justice data.

Thirdly, a further goal is to improve the cross-border judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters. In this area, there are already a number of Union legal acts which have proven extraordinarily effective in practice and have contributed greatly towards managing proceedings in cross-border matters in a more expeditious and simplified manner. However, practitioners have indicated possible improvements – e.g. when managing proceedings concerning child abductions, cross-border serving of documents and cross-border taking of evidence – which shall be implemented by amendments, namely:

  • amending the Brussels IIa Regulation (concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility),
  • a proposal of an insolvency Directive (on preventive restructuring frameworks, second chance and measures to increase the efficiency of restructuring, insolvency and discharge procedures),
  • as well as amending the European Regulations on the service of documents and the taking of evidence.

As a fourth issue, the topic of detention in a prisoner’s home country shall be further discussed. Its aim is a reduction of the costs of the penal system in connection with foreign prisoners. In this context it is essential that the respective member states can provide appropriate conditions of imprisonment. As currently there aren’t any funding opportunities at European Union level, possible solutions shall be sought.