On 15 and 16 June, the EJTN organised its 2023 General Assembly under the Swedish Presidency of the Council and with support from the Swedish Judicial Training Academy and the Swedish Prosecution Authority.
The event took place in Stockholm, Sweden, and was the event with the highest participation figure in EJTN’s history. A total of 150 participants representing EJTN Members, associate members, observers and Partners attended in person or online.
A series of speeches in the plenary session provided the delegates with an overview of EJTN’s activities and partnerships. Delegates also discussed key topics that will shape the association’s future, such as how to address the challenges raised by digitalisation, how to increase participation in EJTN’s activities and reinforce the latter’s impact, how to take into account sustainability in EJTN’s activities, and how the members conceive the Network at the horizon of 2050.
A number of orientations emerged from each of the working sessions, that will help in defining EJTN’s priorities in the short, medium and long term.
A new working group on digitalisation
One of the event’s highlights was the creation of a new working group on digitalisation. This group will help the EJTN tackle increasingly important training needs for its members, inter alia on the development of digital skills and cybersecurity, as well as on emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence.
The EJTN Members also decided to convene an extraordinary General Assembly in October 2023, coupled with the next EJTN Conference of Directors, to elect the Members and Convener of the new digitalisation working group.
Informing EJTN Members, Associate Members, Observers and Partners
The Stockholm General Assembly was also the occasion for the EJTN Secretary General to report on the 2022 activities, the most recent developments during the first six months of her mandate since January 2023 and the organisation’s short- to medium-term priorities.
The Chair of the EJTN’s Steering Committee, Remco Van Tooren, also delivered a report on the activities of the Steering Committee during 2022.
For their part, EJTN’s four working groups, Exchange Programme, Judicial Training Methods, Linguistics, and Programmes, gave interactive presentations about their work accomplished in 2022.
Furthermore, EJTN Members decided to approve a reform of EJTN’s Articles of Association, as well as the 2022 accounts and 2024 budget presented by the Secretariat.
A constructive dialogue with key judicial training stakeholders
The EJTN General Assembly was also an occasion for representatives from key organisations or institutions to present their views on the current situation of the EJTN and the future of training judges, prosecutors and court staff across the EU.
The European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, and the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, sent video messages in which they emphasised the importance of the EJTN for training justice professionals in the EU and the Western Balkans, and thus consolidate mutual trust and respect for the Rule of Law among justice systems in Europe. Initial training activities as AIAKOS and THEMIS were especially highlighted in building the future of the EU judiciary. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice and Consumers was also represented by Wojciech Postulski, who outlined in particular recent aspects of the Commission’s policy concerning judicial training.
The Court of Justice of the European Union was represented by Judge Octavia Spineanu-Matei, who delivered the closing speech, and by Stanislas Adam, Legal Secretary at the Chamber of the President of the Court.
In their interventions (see below), they emphasized how the cooperation between the Court of Justice and the EJTN has been reinforced in the recent past with different projects (Judges@Europe forum, participation of the ECJ to the Themis final in 2023, Training videos project, etc.) and announced the Court’s willingness to go further in the future.
Judge Erik Wennerström delivered a closing speech on behalf of the European Court of Human Rights, emphasising the importance of coordinating judicial training at the European level to safeguard key European values such as the Rule of Law and the right to fair trial before an independent court, as guaranteed by Article 6 ECHR.
Several Swedish authorities also attended the event and delivered inspiring speeches, including the Minister for Justice, Gunnar Strömmer, the Supreme Administrative Court Chief Justice, Helena Jäderblom, and the Prosecutor General for Sweden, Petra Lundh.
Briefing on the current situation of justice training in Ukraine
Delegates were also briefed by the Rector of the National School of Judges of Ukraine, Mykola Onishchuk, and Olesia Otradnova, Director of the Prosecutor’s Training Centre of Ukraine, about the state of judicial training in Ukraine in the context of the war against Russia.
Parallel to the General Assembly, a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Dutch Training and Study Centre for the Judiciary (SSR) and the National School of Judges of Ukraine. The signatories were Rector Margreet Blaisse and Rector Mykola Onishchuk, respectively.
In her opening remarks, EJTN Secretary General Ingrid Derveaux said:
“This General Assembly belongs to each one of you. Your contributions and ideas are vital to our shared success. Together, we will navigate the challenges ahead, discussing and implementing strategies to increase participation and create a network that remains adaptable and resilient”.
In her presentation of the cooperation between the Swedish Prosecutors’ Offices and the EJTN, Prosecutor General Petra Lundh explained:
“International judicial cooperation is key, and thus also training ; EJTN plays a fundamental role in that respect; EJTN’s support is of great value for prosecutors’ offices in Sweden, esp. on cross-border criminality. It is essential to master EU instruments; to share views with colleagues from other Member States on what works, and what does not; how we can make best use of tools to achieve results”.
In his speech setting out the cooperation of the EJTN with the Court of Justice of the EU, Stanislas Adam said:
“The Court expresses its gratitude to the EJTN for being its most trustful and legitimate partner on judicial training. We strongly reinforced our cooperation recently, thanks in particular to the initiatives of its efficient and dynamic Secretary General. We shall further deepen that cooperation in the future […]. Because we have demonstrated our capacity to work hand-in-hand with a common objective: consolidating the Union’s legal space by increasing knowledge about EU law and procedures, and in turn reinforcing the confidence of EU citizens in our justice systems”.
In her closing speech, Judge Octavia Spineanu-Matei emphasized “the openness of the Court to increase the number of national magistrates in long-term training placement; ideally, it should be 27 places, one for each Member State”.
She added that “The Court remains open to explore other means and ways for more fruitful cooperation with EJTN. Such cooperation will help us build or consolidate bridges between our national and European jurisdictions, increase the mutual trust, create a stronger European judicial community based on shared values and respect for the rule of law, and contribute to a common European judicial culture”.
In his closing speech, Minister Gunnar Strömmer said:
“I want to take this opportunity to thank EJTN for its persistent and robust work on judicial training and exchanges between judicial practitioners from all over Europe. EJTN’s constructive work encourages and inspires other professions to build on this good example by promoting dialogue and exchange of good practices at the European level – for the benefit of all citizens”.
EJTN is immensely grateful to the Director of the Swedish Judicial Training Academy, Erik Brattgård, and the Director of the Swedish Prosecution Authority, Stephan Uttersköld, and their teams for their professionalism and dedication in the organisation of this memorable General Assembly.