European judicial training is the training of legal practitioners in European substantive and procedural law and familiarising them with national judicial systems. Priority is given to judges and prosecutors as they are responsible for the enforcement and respect of Union law, but judicial training is also essential for other legal practitioners: court staff, lawyers, solicitors, bailiffs, notaries, mediators. All legal practitioners must develop competences for the implementation of the European legislative framework as well as mutual trust and understanding to ensure a secure legal environment for people and businesses in which rights are safeguarded and applied in a clear and consistent manner.
Working together to strengthen European Judicial Training
In light of the new responsibilities devolved to the European Union by the Treaty of Lisbon and in order to implement the priorities established by the Stockholm Programme in the field of judicial training, the European Commission has adopted a Communication "Building trust in EU-wide Justice, a new dimension to European judicial training". The aim of this Communication is to give a new dimension to European judicial training and to enable an even greater number of legal practitioners to access high-quality training in European Union law.
There is a need to strengthen action at European level, as three quarter of judges and prosecutors assess that the number of cases involving EU law has increased over the years. Almost half of judges and prosecutors deal with issues of EU law at least once every three months. As a consequence, 65% of judges and prosecutors consider the knowledge of EU law and its implementation as relevant for their functions (results of a survey of individual judges, prosecutors and court staff in the EU Member States on their experiences of judicial training: Draft Interim Report, European Parliament study "Judicial training in the EU Member States").
The objective of the European Commission is to enable 700 000 legal practitioners, 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, in line with the objectives of the Stockholm Programme.
It is a common responsibility of all stakeholders. Member States, Councils for the judiciary, national and European judicial training institutions, legal professions at national and European level must commit themselves to integrate EU law and its implementation in national and local training, to increase the number of judicial training activities on EU law and the number of participants.
What can be done
The European Commission calls on Member States and the legal professions to ensure that legal practitioners benefit from at least one week's training on Union acquis and instruments during their career.
The European Commission commits itself to increasing funding available for European judicial training to support high-quality projects with greater European impact to train legal practitioners on EU law, including the development of e-learning. Under the new multiannual financial framework, European judicial training should be a major priority to support training of more than 20 000 legal practitioners per year by 2020.
The Commission aims to initiate a two-week exchange programme for new judges and prosecutors from 2014 onwards. The Commission will also develop flanking measures, by developing the supporting role of the European e-Justice Portal, by drafting practical guidelines on training methodologies, evaluation, etc.
As a tool to help develop European judicial training in numbers of activities and of participants, the Commission will encourage public-private partnerships to develop innovative training solutions.
Training modules on the implementation of specific European legislative instruments and developed at European level by the European Commission (DG Environment) are made available free of charge, and can be used and adapted to national contexts and different target groups by trainers in the context of specialised training courses.
In 2006, the European Commission presented a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on judicial training in the European Union.
2008 saw the adoption of a Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on the training of judges, prosecutors and judicial staff in the European Union.
In 2009, the European Parliament published a study on strengthening judicial training in the European Union, which is available through the link below.
The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 provides a legal basis for European judicial training activities. Articles 81 and 82 list “support for the training of the judiciary and judicial staff” as one of the measures required to strengthen judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, and in criminal matters.
To train judges and legal practitioners in Union law to empower citizens and businesses to stand up for their rights and to ensure the effectiveness of the Single Market is one of the key recommendations of Mr Mario Monti's report "A new strategy for the single market".
In December 2009 the Council adopted the Stockholm Programme focusing on issues of European judicial training for all legal professionals.
In the Stockholm Programme Action Plan and the EU citizenship report 2010 the Commission stated European judicial training to be a priority. The European Parliament also has consistently underlined that proper judicial training contributes significantly towards improving the operation of the internal market and making it easier for citizens to exercise their rights.
At the end of 2010, the Commission launched a consultation of stakeholders in which participated the Member States, members of the Justice Forum, and the European Judicial Training Network and its members. You will find a summary of the findings of the consultation here
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.
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Last update: 22/02/2013