Viviane Reding, the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, spoke about “Europe, the Law, and the German legal profession: a comment from Luxembourg” at last week’s German Jurists Forum in Munich (see my earlier post on the Forum). The focus of her speech was on the German legal debate on the Euro rescue plans – that’s somewhat off topic in this blog, as important as it is, and we leave it to verfassungsblog.de and others to comment upon. But Viviane Reding devoted a couple of sentences to more mundane issues, such as the plans for group or class actions in the European Union. Here’s what she had to say:
“Personally, I am strictty opposed to legislative action regarding group actions. I am of the opinion that the national procedural law within the European Union is still too diverse for us venture into such an experiment. Also, I do not see any benefit in importing US class actions into the European legal framework – not even for consumers, who are, in particular in Germany, already protected to an impressively high degree by comprehensive legislation, the judiciary and consumer action groups.” (“Ich persönlich bin entschieden gegen europäische Gesetzgebung auf diesem Gebiet. Ich meine, dass das nationale Prozessrecht in der Europäischen Union noch zu unterschiedlich ist, um solche Experimente zu wagen. Ich kann auch keinen Vorteil im Import der amerikanischen “class actions” in die europäische Rechtsordnung erkennen – auch nicht für die Verbraucher, die gerade in Deutschland durch eine umfangreiche Gesetzgebung, durch die Justiz und durch Verbraucherverbände bereits heute auf beeindruckend hohem Niveau geschützt sind.”)
Here’s the link to an English summary of her speech, and here is the full German version. The speech is worth reading. Reding was very outspoken and much more direct that you would expect from a standard policitan’s opening address to a legal congress, as flattering as her remarks about the quality of German lawyers were. And here is a link to an earlier post on the EU’s policy on collective redress.