The European Union has taken on an active role in harmonizing the law of international jurisdiction over civil and commercial court disputes. However, the jurisdictional rules contained in the key instrument in the area – the Brussels Ia Regulation – only apply to disputes involving EU-based defendants, save for a few exceptions where defendants domiciled in third countries are also covered. This article will explore the rationale for harmonizing the law of jurisdiction applicable to third-country defendants. This central theme is of particular interest, since further harmonization is once again on the EU’s agenda because of the upcoming revision of the Brussels Ia Regulation. The article will outline that proposals for harmonization are rooted in the aspiration to further effective access to justice. Moreover, it will demonstrate that far from a readily implementable programme, furthering access to justice is a multifaceted aim, the pursuit of which potentially has profound ramifications for the EU rules on civil jurisdiction.