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European Commission - Press release

European Commission signs agreement with Croatia to support training of judges and prosecutors

Brussels, 15 December 2011 – Today, the European Commission signed an agreement with Croatia to help train the country's judiciary ahead of the country’s accession to the EU in July 2013. Under the agreement signed by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and Croatian Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjakovic, Croatia will be able to participate in EU programmes to support training for judges, lawyers and other legal practitioners. The agreement follows Croatia’s signature of an accession treaty with the European Union on 9 December (MEMO/11/883), paving way for the country to become the EU's 28th Member State.

"All legal practitioners in the EU countries can be concerned with EU law. Understanding EU law is essential for the strengthening of the EU area of justice and of the EU as a Community of law," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the European Commission’s Vice-President. "Our agreement today will allow Croatian judges and prosecutors to take part in European judicial training projects in the run-up to accession. This is an essential part of Croatia's final preparations for joining the EU and will help ensure citizens and businesses in Croatia get the most out of their future EU membership."

The EU provides financial support through co-funding for European judicial training activities at national and European level. It is part of the EU's goal of training 700,000 legal practitioners in European law by 2020 (IP/11/1021).

Under the two Memoranda of Understandings signed today, Croatia will be able to participate in the EU's civil justice and criminal justice funding programmes. These programmes help to support judicial training projects in EU law at European, national and regional level. The agreement therefore allows Croatian judges, prosecutors and other legal practitioners to get trained in European law ahead of the country's accession to the EU. It will also permit the Croatian Judicial Academy to fully participate in the European Judicial Training Network – which coordinates European activities of national training structures for judges and prosecutors in Europe.

Background

There are currently around 1.4 million legal practitioners in the EU, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and court staff. The Commission wants to enable at least half of these legal practitioners to participate in European judicial training at local, national or European level by 2020. It has set an additional target of ensuring that all legal practitioners benefit from at least one week's training in EU law during their career.

To achieve this, it has called on national governments, councils for the judiciary, professional bodies and judicial training institutions both at EU and national level to commit to integrating EU law into their training programmes and to increasing the volume of courses and participants.

The Commission itself intends to facilitate access to EU funding to support high-quality training projects, including e-learning. Under the EU's new multi-annual financial framework, the Commission has proposed to make European judicial training a major priority, with the aim of training more than 20,000 legal practitioners a year by 2020.

To help build a common European judicial culture based on mutual trust, the Commission will launch a two-week exchange programme for new judges and prosecutors from 2014 onwards. The Commission will support training through the European e-Justice Portal – the EU's one-stop-shop for laws and access to justice in all EU countries – and by sharing practical guidelines on training methodologies and evaluation.

European judicial training may take place during initial or life-long training periods. It covers:

  • EU legislation, including substantive and procedural law, together with the corresponding case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union,

  • knowledge of national judicial systems.

These strands may be supported by linguistic training. The European judicial training scheme includes two complementary components: judicial training activities in general, whether organised at local, national or European level, and cross-border exchanges.

The Commission will also encourage public-private partnerships to develop innovative training solutions, including by building on the strengths of all existing training providers.

Legal Basis

Judicial training is primarily a national responsibility, as highlighted in a Council Resolution in 2008. The Lisbon Treaty (articles 81.2.h and 82.1.c of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), calls on the EU to "support the training of the judiciary and of judicial staff" in both civil and criminal matters.

The 2009 Stockholm Programme called for strong EU action to support national training efforts as well as developing EU level training mechanisms. The European Parliament has also consistently underlined in a resolution that proper judicial training contributes significantly towards improving the operation of the internal market and making it easier for citizens to exercise their rights.

For more information

Justice Directorate General Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/news/index_en.htm

European Commission – European judicial training

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/european-judicial-training/index_en.htm

European Commission – Justice issues in EU enlargement

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/international-relations/enlargement/index_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Contacts :

Matthew Newman (+32 2 296 24 06)

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)


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