European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (RECJ)
ENCJ President meets EU Commissioner for Justice PDF Print E-mail
vos_jourova_sept_2015On 22nd September Mr Geoffrey Vos met with Mrs Jourova, the Commissioner for Justice Consumers and Gender Equality.
The President reported on his meeting with the Commissioner, Mrs Jourova which took place on 22 September. One of the issues discussed was the quality of justice. Mrs Jourova agreed that this issue has a significant cultural content that needs to be carefully considered. The Commissioner indicated that she is keen that the ENCJ should continue its cooperation with the EC on the Scoreboard as it moves to consider the quality of justice.  She is concerned that the EC should re-think the methodology of the Scoreboard.  The President offered ENCJ’s assistance. The commissioner would like to develop indicators of quality. Again, the President indicated that the ENCJ was willing to help, and indeed that was a large part of the ENCJ’s continuation of the independence project in 2015/16.
There was a discussion about the objective and subjective independence of the judiciary.  The EC has received criticism because the only subjective views in the Scoreboard had come from business (Figure 47 World Economic Forum).  The ENCJ would be happy to assist the EC on the preparation of a new Eurobarometer evaluating consumer confidence in the justice systems of Europe and the independence of those judiciaries.
Towards the end of the meeting, the issue of funding was discussed.  Mrs Jourova thinks that the EC’s budget should be directed towards its priorities, and should not be determined in isolation from the determination of those priorities.  One of those priorities was to provide a programme for the improvement of the quality of justice across the EU involving training, ethics, and enhancing respect for the judiciary.  The ENCJ President suggested that this might bring in the ENCJ’s cooperation with EJTN in relation to training judges across Europe in good practices concerning judicial governance, Councils for the Judiciary, and best practice generally.
The Commissioner asked what she should say when she would visit Ukraine (23/25 September). The President thought that she should make it clear that there was a need for the Councils to be functionally independent so as to be able to combat the problems of judicial corruption.  The ENCJ would be pleased to engage with the Ukrainian Councils.  The Commissioner also mentioned that she though that as a follow-up to the EU project in Ukraine European internships could be offered to young judges and prosecutors.
A final idea which was raised by the ENCJ was that there might be a brainstorming session between the networks, organised by the EC, to discuss how to improve the quality of justice.  The bodies to be involved (not more than 10 people) might include ENCJ, EJTN, ASCP (Supreme Court Presidents), and ACA. The Commissioner thought this was a good idea and suggested as a title “How can the Scoreboard measure (perhaps “and improve”) the quality of justice?”
The meeting concluded with a discussion on the EPPO (European Public Prosecutors Office) and the question of countries that allow “transactions” to buy out the prosecution for a criminal offence. Mrs Jourova is concerned that prosecutors do not understand that the project is not intended to interfere with national prosecution procedures or practices, but is intended to produce another layer to investigate and prosecute EU-fraud and other crimes affecting the Union's financial interests, which is hard to tackle at a national level.

One of the issues that was discussed was the continuation of the cooperation between ENCJ and the Commission on the EU Justice Scoreboard as it moves to consider the quality of justice.  Another point of discussion was the need for  a programme for the improvement of the quality of justice across the EU involving training, ethics, and enhancing respect for the judiciary.  The ENCJ President suggested that this might bring in the ENCJ’s cooperation with EJTN in relation to training judges across Europe in good practices concerning judicial governance, Councils for the Judiciary, and best practice generally.  

The meeting concluded with a discussion on the EPPO (European Public Prosecutors Office) and the way forward in relation to the investigation and prosecution of EU-fraud and other crimes affecting the Union's financial interests.  

Picture courtesy of the European Union - © European Union, 2015

 
Call for proposals for training of national competition law judges PDF Print E-mail
We would like to announce to you the recent publication of our new Call for Proposals 2015 on "TRAINING OF NATIONAL JUDGES IN EU COMPETITION LAW AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION BETWEEN NATIONAL COMPETITION LAW JUDGES". The Call is published in English first and will be followed by all the other EU official languages, on our website http://ec.europa.eu/competition/calls/proposals_open.html
The EU Commission will finance up to 80%-90%* of successful projects submitted under this Call.
Projects should consists in trainings (initial, compulsory or advanced) or events on EU competition law targeting judges, prosecutors, apprentice national judges and the legal staff of the judges’ offices or of national courts.

The European Commission has published a new Call for Proposals 2015 on "Training of national judges in EU Competition Law and Judicial Cooperation between National Competetion Law Judges". The Call is published in the website of DG Justice.  Projects should consist of training (initial, compulsory or advanced) or events on EU competition law targeting judges, prosecutors, trainee-judges and the legal staff of the judges’ offices or of national courts.

 
Public consultation on contract rules for online purchases PDF Print E-mail

The European Commission has published a public consultation on contract rules for online purchases of digital content and tangible goods. The purpose of this public consultation is to collect interested parties' views on the possible ways forward to remove contract law obstacles related to the online purchases of digital content and tangible goods. Contributions from citizens, organisations and public authorities are welcome.

Link to public consultation.

 
European Commission opens a new call for proposals for funding of judicial training projects PDF Print E-mail
European Commission invites applications for judicial training projects and allocates 5.5 million €
The European Commission has increased financial support for judicial training projects by 500.000 €.
Eligible are only cross-border projects on training judges, prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, court staff, bailiffs and mediators on civil/commercial law, criminal law, law with fundamental rights implications, prevention of radicalisation, law of other Member States or legal foreign language, as specified in the call.

The European Commission invites applications for judicial training projects. Eligible are only cross-border projects on training judges, prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, court staff, bailiffs and mediators on civil/commercial law, criminal law, law with fundamental rights implications, prevention of radicalisation, law of other Member States or legal foreign language, as specified in the call. The funding priorities fixed by the European Commission include in particular the prosecution of suspects of terrorism and organized crime as well as the prevention of radicalization in detention, including the use of alternatives to imprisonment. 

Go to Call for Proposals on DG Justice page

 
Promoting Effective Justice Systems PDF Print E-mail
22 members and 15 observers of the ENCJ met in The Hague for their General Assembly entitled “promoting effective justice systems” between 3rd and 5th June 2015.  The Croatian and Hungarian Councils were elected as new full members of the ENCJ, and the Albanian Council became an observer.
On Thursday 4th June, the President of the ENCJ, Sir Geoffrey Vos, welcomed the keynote speakers, Ms Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice, and Ms Eleanor Sharpston, Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union.  He introduced the ENCJ’s latest report on the independence and accountability of the judiciary and of the prosecution, which included the results of the first Europe-wide survey of the subjective views of nearly 6,000 judges across 22 European countries.  The survey showed that, on average, judges rated their own independence on a scale of 1 to 10, at 8.8, and the independence of judges in their own country generally at 7.9.
Several of the outcomes of the survey were, however, of concern.  A large number of judges did not feel that their independence had been respected by government and the media.  Many judges also thought that appointments and promotions in their countries had not been made only on the basis of ability and experience.  In half of the countries surveyed, more than 30% of judges either thought that judicial bribery had occurred in the last 2 years or were not sure if it had occurred.
The ENCJ’s report also included the outcomes of the application of indicators of the independence and accountability of the judiciary to all its members and observers.  This exercise showed that there was much room for improvement in both subjective and objective independence.  In relation to objective independence, scores were particularly low for the funding and management of the judiciary showing that many are still financially and managerially dependent on discretionary decisions of government.  Many judiciaries still need to gather data about the perceptions of court users.
Ms Jourova spoke about the excellent co-operation between the European Commission and the ENCJ in relation particularly to the Justice Scoreboard and issues of the structural independence of the judiciary.  She said she looked forward to future cooperation on the effectiveness of safeguards to protect the judiciary from inappropriate influences.
The General assembly also approved the ENCJ’s project report setting out minimum standards for judicial disciplinary proceedings.
The General Assembly debated 12 important challenges to the independence of the judiciary and to the efficiency of justice raised by member Councils.
The President said that, in the coming year, the ENCJ would be starting a series of dialogue groups aimed at finding solutions to the problems faced by Councils for Judiciary across Europe in relation to the independence and accountability of their judiciaries, and work would be done to identify indicators of quality and effective justice systems, and there would be a project group considering the involvement of civil society in Councils for the Judiciary and in judicial management and administration.
The ENCJ noted with great concern the well-publicised events in relation to judges and the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors in Turkey.  It will carefully monitor developments over the coming weeks with a view to further ENCJ engagement.
The General Assembly concluded with the adoption of The Hague Declaration
on promoting effective justice systems which recited that the ENCJ’s four year plan has focused the ENCJ on encouraging its member Councils for the Judiciary and its observers to adhere more closely to the standards, guidelines and statements of best practice that it has developed in order to make their justice systems even more effective.  The Declaration states that:-
1. Independent and accountable judiciaries are an essential component of high quality, effective and efficient justice systems, and a prerequisite for a well-functioning EU area of justice;
2. The ENCJ will facilitate the use of dialogue groups and other means to enable its members and observers to enhance the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of justice in their countries for the benefit of all persons;
3. The ENCJ will continue to develop and improve its standards, guidelines and statements of best practice and find ways to ensure that its members and observers more closely comply with them in order to improve their justice systems; and
4. The ENCJ will endeavour to identify elements that constitute a quality justice system and subsequently develop indicators that will assist in the evaluation of the measurement of the quality of justice with a view to its enhancement across the EU and in candidate member states.

22 members and 15 observers of the ENCJ met in The Hague for their General Assembly entitled “promoting effective justice systems” between 3rd and 5th June 2015.  The Croatian and Hungarian Councils were elected as new full members of the ENCJ, and the Albanian Council became an observer.
On Thursday 4th June, the President of the ENCJ, Sir Geoffrey Vos, welcomed the keynote speakers, Ms Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice, and Ms Eleanor Sharpston, Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union.  He introduced the ENCJ’s latest report on the independence and accountability of the judiciary and of the prosecution, which included the results of the first Europe-wide survey of the subjective views of nearly 6,000 judges across 22 European countries.  The survey showed that, on average, judges rated their own independence on a scale of 1 to 10, at 8.8, and the independence of judges in their own country generally at 7.9.  
Several of the outcomes of the survey were, however, of concern.  A large number of judges did not feel that their independence had been respected by government and the media.  Many judges also thought that appointments and promotions in their countries had not been made only on the basis of ability and experience.  In half of the countries surveyed, more than 30% of judges either thought that judicial bribery had occurred in the last 2 years or were not sure if it had occurred.

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