26 Judicial training |
|Commission Communication on judicial training in the European Union
|Document originated||29 June 2006
|Deposited in Parliament||10 July 2006
|Basis of consideration||EM of 20 July 2006
|Previous Committee Report||None; but see (21877) HC 28-iii (2000-01), para 7 (17 January 2001), and (23617) HC 152-xl (2001-02), para 11 (30 October 2002)
|To be discussed in Council||No date set
|Committee's assessment||Legally and politically important
26.1 A number of institutions involved in judicial training in
the European Union have been meeting regularly since 1998 to co-ordinate
their training in European law and in the handling of cross-border
cases. These judicial training colleges
have made combined bids for funding under the GROTIUS, FALCONE
and PHARE programmes, and in 2000 made an agreement establishing
a European Judicial Training Network to serve as a framework for
future joint projects.
26.2 Also in 2000, France submitted a proposal for
the European judicial training network to be established by a
Council Decision. The proposal was not adopted, one of the reasons
being the difficulty of establishing an appropriate Treaty base
for a network which would operate in the field of criminal as
well as civil law. As the French proposal was made under Article
34(2)(c) EU, the Member States were not able to agree that the
draft Council Decision should also apply to judicial co-operation
in civil matters, this being a subject for the EC Treaty.
The Commission's communication
26.3 The communication from the Commission canvasses
ways in which judicial training might be supported at EU level.
The communication suggests that the inclusion by the Amsterdam
Treaty of a reference to the objective of creating an "area
of freedom, security and justice" means that "judicial
training is a new task for the Union". It notes that there
are wide variations in systems for judicial training in the Member
States. In some Member States, judges and prosecutors are trained
separately, whereas in others (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,
France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Poland,
Slovakia and Slovenia) a single institution is responsible for
training both judges and prosecutors.
26.4 The communication acknowledges that "the
European Union has no grounds for interfering in the organisation
of national training systems", but it equally asserts that
the time devoted to training must be sufficient to ensure high
quality standards in the judicial system and to "allow a
significant European element to be developed in the programmes".
26.5 The communication refers to the creation of
the European Judicial Training Network as a valuable tool for
developing judicial training and notes that the network has received
operating grants from the EU budget in 2003 and 2005. The Commission
proposes in its communication that from 2007 the European Judicial
Training Network should be allocated an annual operating grant
under the EU framework programme on fundamental rights and justice.
26.6 The Commission considers that the organisation
of judicial training is primarily the responsibility of the Member
States and that it is "up to them to incorporate the European
dimension fully into their national activities". However,
the communication also suggests that priority should be given
to improving familiarity with EU and Community legal instruments,
improving language skills and developing familiarity with the
legal and judicial systems of the Member States. The communication
also suggests that training must stress practical aspects, that
methods allowing a broader dissemination of results than is achieved
by lectures and seminars "must be developed" and that
more training courses for trainers should be offered "in
particular to encourage them to be more keenly aware of the European
dimension of judicial action". It concludes that "the
point of strengthening the European component of national training
is to achieve a more widespread familiarity with Union mechanisms"
and that "there is also a need to develop a more fully integrated
type of training, conceived and implemented at European level".
26.7 In a section of the communication entitled "towards
a European strategy of judicial training" the Commission
indicates its wish to strengthen the European Judicial Training
Network by providing financial support for the training of legal
professions in EU and Community law under the 2007-13 framework
programme on fundamental rights and justice, but "without
ruling out the possibility of a specific legislative instrument".
It proposes that the Network should become involved in devising
"fully European" training schemes in conjunction with
other relevant bodies and that prosecutors "must be allowed
to take part in all the activities developed at European level
and managed by the Network, subject to full respect for national
traditions concerning the separation between judges and prosecutors".
The Government's view
26.8 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 20 July 2006
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for
Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland) states that
the Government broadly welcomes the communication, noting that
funding programmes to support judicial exchanges and other initiatives
are not new and have operated in a way which is broadly satisfactory.
The Minister adds that the Commission's stated intention not to
pursue a legislative approach to these matters appears to the
Government to be proportionate.
26.9 The Minister makes this further general comment:
"The Government considers that the EU has a
legitimate interest in promoting judicial co-operation, and recognises
that enhanced language training and better understanding of Community
law and national legal systems can make an appropriate contribution
to that end. Judicial exchanges can also contribute, although
there are practical considerations concerning participation linked
to our relatively small number of full-time judges because of
the extent to which our system employs lay magistrates. Moreover,
there are some ambiguities, as applied to the UK system, as to
precisely which judicial personnel will be covered. Further, in
certain areas the communication envisages an approach which differs
from that currently taken in England and Wales. For example, in
cases where guidance is required, this is likely to be provided
by way of a practice direction than by dissemination of training
materials as envisaged
in the communication. Whilst the
Government will want to ensure that access to funding is not denied
to those judicial training models which do not fit neatly with
the European model, there is no reason to suppose that is intended."
26.10 The Minister also states that the Government
will approach these matters on the basis that judicial independence
is "paramount" and will wish to look carefully at proposals
concerning the participation of prosecutors in training schemes
26.11 We welcome the recognition in the communication
that the European Union has no grounds for interfering in the
organisation of national judicial training schemes. However, and
in apparent contradiction, the communication then proceeds to
prescribe a number of detailed principles relating to the content
and methods of judicial training schemes, for example, by requiring
that they should contain a "significant European element".
In the same vein, the communication also calls for "a more
fully integrated type of training, conceived and implemented at
26.12 We endorse the approach the Minister intends
to take, and we welcome her emphasis on judicial independence.
We note that the Government will wish to ensure that access to
funding is not denied to those training models which do not fit
neatly with those suggested in the Commission's communication.
26.13 In the light of the Minister's comments,
we are content to clear the document.
70 The UK was represented by the Judicial Studies Board
of England and Wales, Judicial Studies (Scotland) and the Judicial
Studies Board of Northern Ireland. Back