European judicial training 2015 report

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At the end of 2015, the European Commission published the European judicial training 2015 report, an assessment of the progress made toward reaching the 2020 judicial training targets the European Commission has set in its Building trust in EU-wide justice, a new dimension to European judicial training communication of September 2011 (see E. Guinchard, Chronicle on European Civil Justice, RTDE 2011-4, “Formation ou standardisation des acteurs de l’espace judiciaire européen ?”, p. 876).

The European Commission’s target is ambitious: to enable 700,000 legal practitioners, half of the legal practitioners in the European Union, to participate in European judicial training activities by 2020 by accessing opportunities located at the local, national and European levels. Achieving these goals is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders, including the Member States and Councils for the judiciary as well as national and European judicial training bodies. A particularly crucial element is integrating and implementing EU law into national and local training programmes.

The means provided by the EU were important. In 2014 the EU funded the training of around 25 000 legal practitioners, equivalent to 23 % of all those who took part in European judicial training activities during 2014. The provider of judicial training in EU law that received the biggest single financial support by the European Commission in 2014 was the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN). Operating grants to support their training activities were also awarded to the Academy of European Law (ERA) and the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA). The Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal Market, the European Patent Office, the European Asylum Support Office and to a small extent the European Police College also used EU funds to train legal professionals. In addition, the Commission awarded action grants under several of its new financial programmes (such as the Justice programme in the areas of civil and criminal justice and fundamental rights or the  Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme) as well as financial support through the European Social Fund and the Pre-accession instrument for Croatia for specific training projects. In individual cases, the Commission ordered training activities under service contracts (for the creation of training modules on EU law or for the organisation of training seminars).

The results were rather impressive. Over 2014, more members of the judiciary have received judicial training on EU law or the law of another EU Member State than in any previous year. In total, 132,000 legal practitioners were trained. Furthermore, EU funds supported training of 25,000 legal practitioners in 2014.

The ratio of practitioners participating in continuous training activities on EU law and on judicial systems of another Member State to all existing practitioners per profession is approximately: 32 % (26 039) of all judges in the respondent Member States; 29 % (8 845) of all prosecutors in the respondent Member States; 1 % (4 707) of all court staff working in the respondent Member States; 6 % (45 148) of all lawyers in private practice in the respondent Member States; 14 % (2 550) of all bailiffs practising in the respondent Member States; 31 % (7 893) of all notaries practising in the respondent Member States.

However, the duration of training activities on EU law is quite short: 75 % of all continuous training activities on EU law last for two days or less, more than 50% of the training activities last even 1 day or less, perhaps due to work obligations. In most Member States, training activities on EU law generally last one or two days, while in six Member States the majority of activities last even less than six hours. However, in seven Member States (compared to only four in the last report), at least every third training activity on EU law lasts more than two days.  A Member State that offers longer training activities may of course have in turn less participants, compared to a Member State offering the same amount of training days.

Generally speaking, while the report indicates solid progress, some issues require further attention. Of prominence is that there are substantial differences in the EU law training offering between Member States and legal professions.

(Altalex, 7 March 2016. Article by Emmanuel Guinchard)

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