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5 December 2023

The AIAKOS Programme welcomes over 650 judicial trainees across the EU


In the recent Autumn session of the 2023 AIAKOS programme, more than 650 future judges and prosecutors from 18 European countries gathered for a unique learning experience. Between November 6-10 and November 20-24, participants engaged with their counterparts in a foreign EU Member State, visiting 19 judicial schools and institutions across Europe.

Over the course of five days each, attendees delved into discussions about the distinctions and similarities among their national judicial systems. They had the privilege of learning from experienced speakers and experts through presentations, workshops, and lectures, as well as participating in hearings and visiting local courts and institutions.


Mastering the craft of judging

A webinar on judgecraft was organised by EJTN each week and led by Judge Leslie Cuthbert, an expert from the Judicial College of England and Wales. The sessions focused on topics such as “cognitive biases” and ” handling high conflict situations and individuals,” helping trainees comprehend the impact of biases on decision-making, understand the principles of conducting a fair hearing, and giving them the tools to deal with problematic situations in court.


Each programme is unique!

Although the programme of each institution differs from the others, some activities are commonly organised to reach the objectives of the exchange.

In most countries, visiting trainees are asked to prepare a short presentation of the judicial system of their country of origin. This set in a multiplying effect where trainees not only learn about the host country’s judicial system, but also other trainees.

Visits to courts/prosecution offices, prisons, educational centres, police departments, forensics offices, EU and International institutions, and other judicial/legal institutions are also incorporated in the AIAKOS Programme. These visits are key to contributing to the objective of fostering mutual understanding of different judicial systems and building mutual trust and recognition amongst the European judiciary.

Some thematic sessions on legal and non-legal topics are organised throughout the week that offer a practical approach to judicial cooperation instruments. Topics such as the European Arrest Warrant, the fight against terrorism, or asylum and refugee law are much appreciated.

Moot courts and mock trial simulations are also held in Bordeaux, France, for instance. Attendance to local court hearings is a must in some host countries, and finally, some social events take place as they perfectly complement the learning phases by allowing trainees to socialise freely and develop valuable personal contacts.


Closing Sessions

The conclusion of both AIAKOS weeks featured a session organised by EJTN in collaboration with the French National School for Judiciary (ENM) and the Polish National School of Judges and Public Prosecution (KSSIP). The EJTN secretariat provided an overview of all the training activities offered by the Network, emphasising the European dimension of the work of national judges and prosecutors.

EJTN Secretary General, Judge Ingrid Derveaux, and Judge Raf Van Ransbeeck, Director of the Belgian Judicial Training Institute, exchanged insights with participants, highlighting the European perspective on the work of judges and prosecutors. EJTN expressed gratitude to the national judicial schools and institutions for their dedicated effort and collaboration.


A glimpse into the future

 Next year, more than 1.100 participants are expected to participate in the AIAKOS Programme, helping the European Union get one step closer to the creation of a common judicial culture.

Two new institutions will take part in the 2024 programme for their first time: the Judicial Studies Committee in Malta and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. A total of 27 judicial training institutions from 24 EU countries will send and host future judges and prosecutors in the AIAKOS Programme 2024.

The EJTN would like to thank all judicial institutions and national schools for their efforts for increasing the number of participants and for their commitment in the organisation of a successful AIAKOS exchange in 2023.


Note for editors

The first discussions about creating an Erasmus-type programme for initial training started in 2011.

The first pilot of the programme was launched in 2013 when 269 young and early-career judges and prosecutors from 12 EU countries had the opportunity to participate for the first time. Initially, only two weeks of exchange were organised in the autumn.

Since then, the AIAKOS Programme has become a large and unique platform for future and early-career judges and prosecutors to learn and exchange views about different national judicial systems, foster mutual trust and raise awareness of the European dimension of their future work.

Today, nearly 900 future and early career judges and prosecutors participate annually in the four weeks of the AIAKOS Programme (two in spring, two in autumn).