Wara li l-Kummissjoni Ewropea kienet ippreżentat il-proposta tagħha dwar ir-rikonoxximent ta’ dokumenti pubblici, kien imiss li l-awtoritajiet Maltin, permezz tal-MEUSAC, biex jagħmlu konsultazzjoni tagħhom. Din it-tieni konsultazzjoni għandha twassal għat-tfassil tal-pożizzjoni tal-Gvern Malti għall-proposta tal-Kummissjoni.
L-assocjazzjoni kienet waħda mill-entitajiet ikkonsultati. Għall-mistoqsijiet tal-konsultazzjoni tat dawn it-tweġibiet:
Q.1 – Under the Proposal, the public documents originating from the Member States and falling under its scope are exempted from all forms of legalisation or similar formality foreseen by the Hague Convention of 1961 abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents when presented to the authorities of other Member States. Do you agree with the general principle? Do you feel that the removal of legalisation and apostille of such documents will help or adversely affect your work processes?
A. Yes, we agree with the general aims of the proposal (see our answers to the specific questions below).
While we do not deal with work processes as an organisation, the proposal should have a positive effect for our members as “clients” of both the Maltese and the Belgian public administrations.
Q.2 – Do you think that the abolition of administrative formalities such as legalisation and the apostille would solve the problems encountered by citizens?
A. From the citizen’s viewpoint, very often these formalities do not present themselves as “problems” but rather as “obstacles”: getting hold of and registering documents but the process can be very inefficient and bureaucratic. Considering the level of harmonisation achieved by the EU in other areas and that citizens are living their lives more across borders, it comes as a surprise that in this sector Member States still treat each other as “perfect strangers”.
Q.3 – The Proposal covers public documents having formal evidentiary value relating to birth, death, name, marriage, registered partnership, parenthood, adoption, residence, citizenship, nationality, real estate, legal status and representation of a company or other undertaking, intellectual property rights and absence of a criminal record. Which of the above mentioned documents are commonly used in your work practice/organisation?
A. The documents which are most commonly used by our members are certificates concerning birth, marriage, parenthood (including adoption) and legal status (including the document known as “freedom to marry”). Registered partnerships are likely to feature once Malta introduces the law regulating such partnerships. Certificates attesting to a previous divorce/s are also required for marriage purposes as the Belgian public administration builds up an entire dossier of historic civil status documents for the applicant.
In Belgium passports are usually sufficient proof of nationality and citizenship. Certificates of good conduct are usually required for employment with the EU institutions and, occasionally, the private sector and the English version issued is Malta is considered sufficient without need for translation.
Q.4 – Do you agree with the introduction of multilingual forms issued by authorities in lieu of the translations and legalisation or apostille?
A. Yes, both closer cooperation and introduction of multi-lingual forms are the right approach. With regards to civil status records EU Member States have different legal regimes and modes of public administration which have evolved over many years and for which an immediate radical change would be impossible to put into effect. Facilitating cooperation and “understanding” (through multilingual forms) between administrations is a good place to start and which could provide significant benefits. Multilingual forms should reduce the need for translation which not only carries a cost but can present practical difficulties in finding a recognised translator for the smaller European languages.
Q.5 – (Articles 5 and 6) Under the Proposal, authorities cannot require parallel presentation of the original of a public document and of its certified copy issued by the authorities of other Member States. In addition, authorities should accept a non-certified copy if the original document is presented together with such a copy and furthermore they have to accept certifications issued in other Member States. Do you agree with this way forward?
A. The removal of the requirement to present both an original and a certified copy makes sense.
Q.6 – (Articles 5 and 6) The Proposal also foresees that authorities should accept non-certified translations of public document issued by the authorities of other Member States. Do you think that this method of procedure would alleviate or increase the burden on your organisation? Would it decrease crime and fraud?
A. Our organisation does not process civil documents.
The removal of the requirement for certified translation might entail a higher risk although the authority would retain the possibility to ask for one in case of doubt. We are unable to comment on matters concerning crime and fraud.
Q.7 – (Articles 8 – 10) What is your opinion on the designation of the Central authorities and the Internal Market Information System (IMI)? Do you think that they will be effective and provide a more efficient service to the citizen or is it your opinion that the Central Authority might develop into another bureaucratic authority?
A. We agree with the designation of a Central Authority. This would be particularly helpful in EU Member States where administration of civil status matters is devolved or decentralised (e.g. Belgium). We have never made use of IMI but, as they have a track record in internal market matters, this might put them in a better position to deal with the issue of civil documents.
Q.8 – (Articles 8 – 10) Would you consider adding or deleting any functions of the Central Authority?
A. Not really.
Q.9 – Would it be useful to publish the list of Central Authorities and the National authorities competent to deal with civil status matters or the contact details of one information point in each Member State?
A. Yes. See answer to question 7.
Q.10 – (Articles 11 – 15) When a Union multilingual standard form has been established for a particular public document, the authorities of a Member State must issue such form upon request if an equivalent public document exists in that Member State. The question which authorities issue the forms falls under the national law of each Member State. It must be issued under the same conditions (e.g. as regard the fees) as the equivalent public document existing in that Member State. These standard forms do not produce legal effects as regards the recognition of their content in the Member States where they will be presented. What are your comments on this concept?
A. The introduction of the multilingual standard form is a positive development. From experience, Member States’ certificates record similar content in different forms (e.g. in Belgium a “marriage certificate” does not have a “formulaic” structure as the one in Malta but takes the form of a “declaration” of the public official who officiated the marriage, some Member States do not issue a “birth certificate” in the strict sense of the word but an “extract from the population register”, etc.).
The exclusion of legal effect is understandable and consistent with the general aim to enhance cooperation. A proposal to grant legal effect (and, subsequently, new rights) would be not only of dubious legality (there probably being no article in the TFEU/TEU as a legal basis) but would also run into political problems.
Q.11 – What solutions do you recommend in order to avoid or at least limit the need for translations?
A. The increased use of the Union multilingual standard form envisaged in Articles 11 to 15 of the proposal should reduce the need of transation.
Q.12 – Have you ever used the services of the IMI yourself? If in the affirmative, did you find it useful and efficient?
A. Never used their services.
Q.13 – Would you like to make any other comments on the Proposal?
A. The proposal is positive and should be welcomed especially in view of increased mobility and international marriages. While it is understandable that the Maltese Government give due weight to the views of the Maltese Public Registry in preparing its position, it should also take into account the Maltese nationals living outside Malta who often have to face, as “clients”, foreign public administrations that are far more complex than the situation in Malta.