Let’s make Europeans’ lives easier by abolishing the requirement for superlegalisation, apostilles and official translations of public instruments!

I am going to launch a European Citizen’s Initiative for decreasing some of the administrative burden for EU citizens in the following weeks–months. And I will be glad if you join me (see below).

The goal of the proposed ECI is to significantly reduce the administrative burden that EU citizens or businesses have to face when they need to use public instruments (such as vital records) issued by the authorities of one member country in another member country and to give all the EU citizens the possibility to easily obtain some of the public instrument in an electronic form.

Although we have the freedom of movement for persons and free movement of goods, services, labour and capital guaranteed by the acquis communautaire, when utilising these freedoms in practice, one often has to face a lot of excessive paperwork, which is ridiculously tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. Sooner or later, a person or a business engaging in another country has to present documents (for example vital records or company register extract) issued by one country in another one. Unfortunately, one cannot now just present the originals (or authorised copies) as they are. Instead, in order to be recognised by the destination country, the document has to get through several steps of superlegalisation (apostille) and official translation. This can take weeks and non-negligible amount of money (depending on the countries involved), even for the most simple and ordinary documents such as a marriage certificate.

So, let’s tell the European Commission to put an end to this annoyance.

The goals of the initiative

Easier cross-border paperwork

In the most lightweight version, the goal of the ECI is harmonisation of EU law that will lead to eliminating the requirements for

  • superlegalisation and apostilles for all public instruments issued by the authorities of EU member states, and
  • official translations for, at the very least, all the “form-like” public instruments such as vital records or company register extracts, issued by the authorities of EU member states

with the possibility for third countries to join this regime.

Technical implementation of this goal should be, at least for the form-like instruments, quite simple (therefore cheap); simply put, it should be enough to build a pan-European database of the corresponding document templates and the bodies issuing them.

Electronic documents for everyone

Moreover, it is worth considering to broaden the initiative goal (and consequently also broaden the target group) by introducing legislation that would guarantee all EU citizens the possibility to easily obtain electronic versions of their vital records, company registry excerpts and other similar public instruments.

Target group

We need one million signatures. It is hence important to consider the size of the ECI’s target group, i.e. the people who will benefit if the aims of the initiative are accomplished.

In the basic version (without the electronic documents), the ECI should address mainly

  • the current EU internal migrants (ca. 20 millions),
  • those who plan or have experience with work or studies in another EU country (hard to estimate, but it can be tens of millions)
  • enterpreneurs running their business in more EU countries (hard to estimate)
  • people having spouse from another country or who married abroad or gave a birth abroad (hard to estimate)

The possibility of broadening the system with third countries could be of interest to those who come from a third country but already obtained EU citizenship (there are at least 15 millions such people according to available stats). This is about at least 50 millions (including minors) in the target group.

If we broaden the ECI with the electronic documents, all the EU citizens with some basic computer literacy level will become the target group.

What is needed and how can you contribute

This is quite an ambitious project which cannot possibly be a one-man show. I will be very grateful if you join the team yourselves or spread the word to anyone who could contribute to the following:

  • reviewing, brainstorming and criticising what I wrote above (and below),
  • establishing a formal citizen’s committee consisting of at least 7 members living in at least 7 different EU countries,
  • making the campaign’s website (content, UX, signature collecting system, ideas on nice domain names etc.) and information materials,
  • translating the materials to EU languages,
  • fundraising,
  • medial communication (both traditional and social media),
  • making contacts with individuals and organisations who might be interested to collaborate on the campaign,
  • providing personal experience with cross-border administrative hassles inside the EU that could be used as examples.

Many thanks for reading this and possibly spreading the word or joining the team! You are welcome to email me or to leave a comment below.

(If you decide to share this, you can use the link http://antiredtape.eu which currently redirects to this page.)