The European Commission referred the Czech Republic to the Court of Justice of the EU for non-compliance with EU law. The case involves requirement of Czech citizenship for notaries. According to the EC, this requirement is not justified by the exercise of official authority, and is thus contrary to the freedom of establishment enshrined in EU law. The EC points out that the Court already ruled in its favor in similar cases in the past, specifically concerning Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In the Court´s opinion, the position of a notary in these states does not amount to exercise of official authority. Last year, Latvia changed its laws accordingly, too. According to the Court´s case-law, for an entity to exercise official authority under EU law, the entity´s work cannot be auxiliary or preparatory, it must have discretionary powers in contentious cases, as well as powers of coercion and constraint. If the parties accept the entity´s decision freely, this entity did not exercise official power either. In the EC´s view, notaries in the Czech Republic do not fall in the category of official power. The Czech ministry of justice disagrees and points out notaries in the Czech Republic have powers that their colleagues elsewhere do not have, and thus they exercise public authority – hence the justification of citizenship requirement. The Czech Republic will be able to respond to EC´s proposal before the Court in Luxembourg.
19th June 2018