Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2002


The European Union is installing new infrastructure upon which to build a "genuine European area of justice. This "European judicial area" constitutes a key component of the "area of freedom, security and justice" ("AFSJ"). The Amsterdam Treaty added the AFSJ as a dimension of the Union, in order to promote the free movement of persons. "EUstitia" is a neologism that aims to capture both pragmatic and aspirational aspects of this new European governance project. The term is used here to refer solely to the civil law component of the AFSJ. This article both examines EUstitia's key features, and explores the implications of institutionalizing civil justice in the European Union. In particular, it contextualizes and examines measures that have been taken, proposed, or planned to establish the "genuine European area of justice" since the Amsterdam Treaty entered into effect in May 1999. EUstitia comprises the "communitarization, of private international law, together with other measures related to 'judicial cooperation in civil matters." The developments surveyed in this article are the leading edge of a wave that will alter the European legal landscape in the years ahead. These institutional, procedural, and (possibly even) substantive innovations permeate the legal infrastructure upon which the European Union's legal order is constructed and may-despite their humble origins edge Member States towards the new ius commune to which some aspire. Supplemented by efforts to build networks, strengthen interpersonal relations among legal professionals, and foster European legal culture, these innovations have both the aim and the potential to transform the European system of civil justice into a more comprehensive, coherent, and effective whole. In this way, EUstitia bears upon the development of citizenship, identity, and democracy in the European Union. Part II of this article sets the stage for an analysis of changes in the European Union's rule of law by examining the treaty framework for building the AFSJ. This historical context provides a necessary backdrop against which to assess recent changes. Next, Part III traces the topography of the emergent EUstitia by analyzing the steps that have been taken to date-as well as those that have been proposed or are being planned at the E.D. level-under the banner of "judicial cooperation in civil matters.

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