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Free movement of public documents

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The numbers of Europeans working, studying or living in another Member State has grown to over 12 million. As part of daily life they are often required to present formal documents in one Member State which have been issued in another. In most cases, these documents are not accepted automatically but must undergo a process of authentication which can be both time consuming and costly.

The traditional method of authentication, known as “legalisation”, which involved a series of separate checks has been largely replaced by the streamlined process of Apostille. However this process only reduces administrative burden and does not remove it.

Some provisions of EU law have attempted to address this burden but only on a sectoral basis. No horizontal measure currently exists. The Commission has been aiming to address the issue for several years. Following a 2011 consultation, a proposal for a regulation was published in 2013 which would remove both legalisation and Apostille formalities within the EU.

Stakeholders have expressed their support for the proposal but have emphasised the need to retain legal certainty. The importance of strong administrative cooperation between national authorities has also been highlighted.

Read the complete briefing here

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