European judicial training
European judicial training is a key tool for building mutual trust between legal practitioners from all EU countries to ensure the correct implementation of EU legal instruments and to enhance the European area of justice.
Who is concerned?
All legal practitioners from the 27 EU countries may be concerned by EU law and European judicial cooperation at some stage during their practice. They need to be aware of the interaction between EU legislative instruments and national legislation. This is key to guaranteeing a secure legal environment for citizens and businesses, particularly in the context of increased mobility within the EU.
Training for judges and prosecutors is a priority. European judicial training, however, targets all legal practitioners including court judicial staff, lawyers, solicitors, notaries, bailiffs and mediators.
State of play
The Justice and Home Affairs Council, in its conclusions of 27 and 28 October 2011 on the Commission's communication "Building trust in EU-wide Justice, a new dimension to European judicial training", encouraged the annual sharing of information with the European Commission on training available on EU law and on the number of practitioners trained and asked the Commission to consider presenting a yearly report on European judicial training. The first of these reports is available here .
The European Commission has also funded the project Menu for Justice, a three year joint work among fifty partners in Europe, whose aim is to assess the key gaps in legal and judicial education in all European countries at all stages of education; from undergraduate to graduate and PhD programmes in universities to vocational training of lawyers and judges. You can find more information on the project here.
On 13 September 2011, the European Commission has adopted the Communication "Building trust in EU-wide justice: a new dimension to European judicial training".
The objective of the European Commission is to enable half of the legal practitioners in the European Union to participate in European judicial training activities by 2020 through the use of all available resources at local, national and European level. This Communication sets up European judicial training as a priority in line with the Action Plan implementing the Stockholm Programme (see background).
Training on Union acquis should be systematically integrated into initial training for legal practitioners, reflecting how national and Union legislation interact and influence their everyday practice.
Strong commitment is needed to ensure that judicial training reaches the level of excellence required for a true European judicial culture. The European Commission calls upon all actors to take appropriate action: budgets must be allocated; time must be made available, incentives developed and clear commitments taken.
In preparation for the Communication on European judicial training, the Commission launched a broad consultation of stakeholders at the end of 2010. A summary of the answers received is available on the European e-Justice Portal.
Building synergies and supporting initiatives
EU countries and legal professions have the primary responsibility for judicial training, and the European Commission is developing initiatives to support their efforts.
- DG Justice has included the topic as a priority in the Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme adopted in April 2010.
- The European e-Justice Portal includes a section on European judicial training which will be enriched progressively by additional documents and training tools to reach more end-users.
- The Commission is preparing training material on EU environmental law for use by all interested trainers.
- The Commission is encouraging national and European level networks, professional organisations and training structures to work together, exchange best practices on training methods, build consortia, and set up trans-sectoral training activities.
- The Commission encourages all stakeholders to present high quality and innovative projects with a greater European impact, in response to calls for proposals under various programmes such as 'civil justice' and 'criminal justice'.
- The Commission's work on the future financial perspectives (post 2013) takes into account European judicial training as a priority area.
Established by the EU's national judicial training institutions, and financially supported by the European Commission, the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) plays an important role. It:
- coordinates cooperation between the national judicial training institutions;
- publishes an online catalogue of short courses concerning various areas of law organised in EU countries;
- develops 'train the trainer' activities and recommendations for common curricula;
- organises exchanges between judges and prosecutors, mainly in courts.
European judicial training projects are also developed by groups of national judicial schools and by:
- EU level training structures such as the:
- European judicial networks and professional organisations such as the:
The Communication COM(2011)551 final is available in all official EU languages.
The Lisbon Treaty has given the EU a specific legal basis for action in judicial training in civil and criminal matters (Articles 81.2 and 82.1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU .
In the Stockholm Programme adopted in December 2009, the European Council requested that the Commission propose an 'Action plan for raising substantially the level of European judicial training '. This move followed a Council Resolution from December 2008 highlighting the importance of Member States' support to the training of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff in the EU.
The Commission has supported European projects on judicial training since the creation of the European Area of Justice, Freedom and Security in 1999. In 2006, it adopted a Communication to push for the development of European judicial training for all legal professions.
The European Parliament has always considered judicial training as an important tool for the creation of a common judicial culture and has adopted several resolutions on that topic since 1991.