Evaluating the EU’s judicial training strategy

Monday, October 28, 2019

  • The EU has released an evaluation of its ambitious judicial training strategy, demonstrating many positive results.
  • The evaluation will now be used as a basis for designing a possible legal practitioners training strategy.

It was back in 2011 when the European Commission (EC) set out its ambitious judicial training strategy, which was outlined in the Building trust in EU-wide justice, a new dimension to European judicial training communication of September 2011. A primary, ambitious target of the strategy was to enable 700,000 legal practitioners, half of the legal practitioners in the European Union (EU), to participate in European judicial training activities by 2020 by accessing opportunities located at the local, national and European levels.

As a definition, European judicial training covers the training of justice professionals on all EU legislation, including EU judicial cooperation instruments as well as the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Union's core values such as the rule of law.

In 2019, it was announced that the lofty target of providing judicial training to half of the EU’s legal practitioners was achieved – two years ahead of schedule.

Planning for the future
With the targets of the strategy met, the EC started to look ahead to prepare the next strategy on judicial training for the 2019-2025 period. To this end, a broad consultation was launched to design a training policy for the future. One of these efforts saw the opening of an EU consultation period, running from 1 February to 26 April 2018, which canvassed the views of all EU citizens and parties, and particularly justice professionals involved in the justice system such as judges, prosecutors, court staff, bailiffs or enforcement officers, lawyers, notaries, mediators, legal interpreters and translators, court experts as well as prison management and staff and probation officers.

The consultation process allowed the EC to evaluate the European judicial training strategy, to assess to which extent the strategy was successful between 2011 and 2017, whether drawbacks were found and whether the current strategy was still fit for the challenges of today. The process would help improve the implementation of the strategy until 2020 and serve as a basis for designing a possible European judicial training for the post-2020 period.

Evaluation’s conclusions
The EC has now released the evaluation publication entitled Commission Staff Working Document - Executive Summary of the Evaluation of the 2011-2020 European judicial training strategy.  

The evaluation highlights many glowing conclusions, including that: The evaluation highlights many glowing conclusions, including that:

  • The strategy created a genuine momentum, which enhanced commitment to judicial training by both EU and national bodies.
  • The strategy was on solid grounding with concrete, realistic and relevant objectives.
  • The operational, specific and general objectives were achieved.
  • There was a huge increase in cross-border training activities and judicial exchanges, which could not otherwise have been achieved.
  • The success of specific programmes, such as EJTN’s AÏAKOS programme, helped toward the goal that newly appointed judges and prosecutors take part in judicial exchanges.
  • The strategy led to almost doubling the total funds made available to train legal practitioners through EU programmes.
  • The strategy enhanced the capacity of judicial training providers and alike networks, such as EJTN.

EJTN a proud, committed partner
While the evaluation paints a picture of success, some issues were highlighted as outstanding needs, including improving the training section on the European e-Justice Portal, increasing the training of prison staff and probation officers, further improving the training of lawyers and court staff and bolstering e-learning.

The EJTN was lauded in the evaluation: “The EJTN was widely praised for the high-quality cross-border training offered to judges and prosecutors in the EU, and for its contribution to increasing the number of participants, training activities and exchanges. Its nine ‘Judicial training principles’ are becoming a general reference in the judicial world and the exchange programme for new and experienced judges and prosecutors has become a symbol of common identity for its participants, sharing the same values and belonging to a unique European culture.”

EJTN is honoured to continue working with the European Commission and Europe’s judicial training stakeholders in shaping the future of the European judiciary through training and supporting resources. In line with the released evaluation report, EJTN will in 2020 implement a new training programme for EU court staff.