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Building Trust in Justice Systems in Europe: 'Assises de la Justice' forum to shape the future of EU Justice Policy

European Commission - IP/13/1117   21/11/2013

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL CS ET HU LT LV MT PL SK SL BG RO HR

European Commission

Press Release

Brussels, 21 November 2013

Building Trust in Justice Systems in Europe: 'Assises de la Justice' forum to shape the future of EU Justice Policy

What will EU justice policy look like in 2020? This is the theme of a major conference starting today – the 'Assises de la Justice' ‑ hosted by the European Commission on 21-22 November in Brussels. The starting point for this reflection is a package of five discussion papers presented by the Commission covering European civil, criminal and administrative law, as well as the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU. These papers present ideas and questions for possible actions in EU justice policy in the years to come. The aim is to strengthen the foundations on which the European Union is built and complete the European area of justice in the interest of Europe's citizens and businesses.

More than 700 participants have registered for the event, which will be streamed on the internet and live-tweeted using the #EUJustice hashtag. The conference will bring together a number of high-level speakers, such as Mr V. Skouris, President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Mr R. Badinter, former Minister of Justice and former President of the Constitutional Council of the French Republic, Mr A. Shatter, Minister of Justice, Equality and Defence of Ireland and Mr J. Bernatonis, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuanian. Ahead of this event, the European Commission today published a Eurobarometer on "Justice in the European Union".

"In the space of just a few years, justice policy has come into the limelight of European Union activity – comparable to the boost given to the single market in the 1990s. We have come a long way, but there is still a lot more than we can do to develop a true European area of Justice" said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "Building bridges between the different justice systems means building trust. A truly European Area of Justice can only work if there is trust in each other's justice systems. The European Commission cannot do this alone. I look forward to the discussions at the Assises de Justice forum with Ministers, judges and legal practitioners. Together we can set the course of EU justice policy for the next five years."

Effective justice systems in one Member State are also important for the whole of the EU: whenever a national court upholds EU law, it acts as a ‘European Union court’. For example, national courts play an essential role in enforcing EU competition law and other legislation crucial for the Single Market. Shortcomings in a national justice system are not only a problem for a particular Member State, but can affect the functioning of the Single Market and, more generally, the whole EU legal system, which is based on mutual trust. A Eurobarometer on "Justice in the European Union", published today, confirms this:

  • While only 22% of respondents think that national justice systems should be an exclusive matter for Member States, two thirds of the rest think that the functioning of national judicial systems is a matter of Common European concern because of the existence of cross-border cases, to ensure that EU law can be upheld effectively throughout the Union, or if there are serious problems in the functioning of a national judicial system. (see Annex 1).

  • A majority of people (53%) tend to trust their national justice system, but the level of trust varies significantly from Member State to Member State, from 85% (in Denmark and Finland) to 24% (in Slovenia) (see Annex 2).

  • A majority of people think there are large differences between national judicial systems in terms of quality (58%), efficiency (58%) and independence (52%).

  • The main concerns regarding the civil and commercial courts appear to be the length and the cost of proceedings, with respectively 65% and 48% of respondents considering them as fairly or very bad (see Annex 3).

  • Almost nine out of ten people (89%) would prefer to settle a dispute out of court if alternatives were available.

Next steps: The input gathered at the 'Assises de la Justice' conference (see agenda in Annex 4) will help the Commission set out the EU's justice policy after the Stockholm Programme. As announced by President Barroso in his letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz of 11 September 2013, the European Commission will present a Communication on future initiatives in the field of justice and home affairs policies in spring 2014 which will be discussed at the European Council in June 2014. The input from the conference will therefore contribute to the justice part of that Communication.

Background

EU Justice Policy has undergone profound change in the past few years. It was only in 2010, with the start of the mandate of the current European Commission, that a justice portfolio was created. Since then, the Commission has brought forward more than 50 initiatives in this area, laying the building blocks of a true European area of Freedom, Justice and Security at the service of Europe's citizens – one of the EU's key objectives as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.

Major steps have been taken in just a few years: New EU rights for victims of crime (IP/12/1200) and easier recognition of judgements (IP/12/1321) have improved access to justice, while Commission proposals on personal data protection are set to bolster fundamental rights and the digital single market (MEMO/13/39). Moreover, initiatives like the EU Justice Scoreboard (IP/13/285) have highlighted how effective justice systems and policies are crucial for economic growth.

Now, the aim is to take stock of the progress made and identify the key challenges ahead. To this end, the Commission is organising the 'Assises de la Justice' forum on 21-22 November. This is a two-day conference that will bring together judges, lawyers, scholars, policy makers and business representatives from across Europe. Join the debate on social media using the hashtag #EUJustice.

For more information

The five issues papers:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/events/assises-justice-2013/discussion_papers_en.htm

European Commission – Assises de la justice

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/events/assises-justice-2013/index_en.htm

Factsheets on building the European Area of Justice:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/events/assises-justice-2013/index_en.htm

Join the debate on Twitter: #EUJustice

Homepage of Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter:@VivianeRedingEU

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

Annex 1: GOVERNANCE OF NATIONAL JUDICIAL SYSTEMS

Only 22% of respondents strongly agree that the functioning of a national judicial system is exclusively a matter for Member States

Two thirds of the rest think that the functioning of national judicial systems is a matter for the EU because of the existence of cross-border cases, to ensure that EU law can be upheld effectively throughout the EU or if there are serious problems in the functioning of a national judicial system.

Base: respondents who do not ‘strongly agree’ that the functioning of national judicial systems is exclusively a matter for Member States (N=20866)

Annex 2: A majority of people (53%) tend to trust their national justice system

Annex 3: Perception of quality, independence and efficiency of national courts

Annex 4: Assises de la Justice: Annotated agenda

Thursday 21 and Friday 22 November 2013 in Brussels (Belgium), European Commission, Charlemagne building.

DAY ONE

09:30 – 10:00 OPENING

Ms V. Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, EU Justice Commissioner

10:00 - 10:55 INTRODUCTORY STATEMENTS

Mr J. Bernatonis (LT), Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania

Mr R. Badinter (FR), Lawyer, former Minister of Justice and former President of the Constitutional Council of the French Republic

Mr J. Rozenberg (UK), Commentator in legal matters and journalist

11:15 - 13:00 EFFECTIVE JUSTICE SYSTEMS IN THE EU AND THE EU JUSTICE SCOREBOARD

Moderator: Ms F. Le Bail, Director-General for Justice, European Commission

Ms P. Teixeira da Cruz (PT), Minister of Justice of the Portuguese Republic

Mr K. Lenaerts (BE), Vice-President of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Mr M. Barendrecht (NL), Professor of Law, Tilburg University, Director of Hiil

Mr P. Justice Gilligan (IE), President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary

14:30 - 16.00 INDEPENDENCE OF JUSTICE AND THE EU JUSTICE SCOREBOARD

Moderator: Ms F. Le Bail, Director-General for Justice, European Commission

Mr V. Skouris (EL), President of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Ms P. Koskelo (FI), President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Finland, Vice-President of the NPSJC

Mr E. Tsouroulis (EL), President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe

Mr R. Müller (DE), Journalist

16:30 - 18.00 TOWARDS A NEW RULE OF LAW MECHANISM

Moderator: Ms F. Le Bail, Director-General for Justice, European Commission

Mr A. Shatter (IE), Minister of Justice, Equality and Defence of Ireland

Mr R. Tavares (PT), Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair CRIM

Mr J.M. Sauvé (FR), Vice-President of the Conseil d'État of the French Republic, President of ACA

Mr G. Buquicchio (IT), President of the Venice Commission, Council of Europe

DAY TWO

09:00 - 13:00 TOWARDS A MORE INTEGRATED EUROPEAN AREA OF JUSTICE BASED ON MUTUAL TRUST

Moderator: Ms F. Le Bail, Director-General for Justice, European Commission

9:00 – 10:20. Criminal law

Mr J.F. López Aguilar (ES), Member of the European Parliament, Chair LIBE

Mr K. Tolksdorf (DE), President of the Bundesgerichtshof of the Federal Republic of Germany, Vice-President of the NPSJC

Mr J.C. Marin (FR), General Prosecutor, Cour de cassation of the French Republic

Ms M. McGowan QC (UK), Barrister, Chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales

10:20 – 11:40 Civil and commercial law

Mr K. Lehne (DE), Member of the European Parliament, Chair JURI

Lord Mance (UK), Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Mr M. Szpunar (PL), Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union

11:40 – 13:00 Administrative law

Mr L. Berlinguer (IT), Member of the European Parliament

Mr Z. Kühn (CZ), Judge at the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic

Mr S. Cassese (IT), Judge at the Constitutional Court of the Italian Republic

13:00 – 13:30 CONCLUSIONS

Ms V. Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, EU Justice Commissioner


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