Strasbourg, 21 October 2013
BUREAU OF THE CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL
OF EUROPEAN JUDGES
Report of the 15th meeting
Strasbourg, 11 September 2013
Document prepared by the Secretariat
Directorate General I – Human Rights and Rule of Law
1. The Bureau of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) held its 15th meeting in Strasbourg on 11 September 2013. The meeting was chaired by Mr Gerhard REISSNER (Austria), President of the CCJE.
2. The following members of the Bureau were also present:
· Mr Bart van LIEROP (The Netherlands), Vice-President of the CCJE;
· Mr Richard AIKENS (United Kingdom);
· Ms Nina BETTETO (Slovenia).
3. The meeting was convened pursuant to the decision taken by the Bureau during its 14th meeting on 12 June 2013 in Rome. Its main purpose was to discuss the preparation of the updated version of the Situation Report on the judiciary and judges in the member States.
4. The agenda is set out in Appendix I.
II. PREPARATION OF THE UPDATED VERSION OF THE SITUATION REPORT ON THE JUDICIARY AND JUDGES IN THE MEMBER STATES
5. The members of the Bureau and the Secretariat discussed in-depth the modalities of presenting the information in the Situation Report, referring to the concrete countries and the alleged cases of infringements of the status of judges and functioning of the judiciary.
6. First of all, the members of the Bureau underlined that this report had been drafted pursuant to the CCJE Terms of Reference (ToR) for 2012-2013 which specified among the main tasks that “the CCJE shall provide targeted cooperation at the request of member States, CCJE members, judicial bodies or relevant associations of judges, to enable States to comply with the Council of Europe standards concerning judges”. Furthermore, the draft of the ToR for 2014-2015 states among the results of the CCJE work that “regular information is provided on the situation of judges in Europe”.
7. The first version of this report was adopted in 2011 and submitted for information to the Committee of Ministers. The CCJE plenary meeting, held in Paris on 5-6 November 2012, decided to update this report every two years. In 2012/2013, members of the CCJE submitted detailed updates on relevant aspects of the situation of the judiciary and judges in their countries.
8. The Secretariat incorporated all these comments and information into the updated draft of the Situation Report which was discussed during the meeting. It was decided to make a number of substantive and editorial amendments to the text and to further specify the factual information and all references to the concrete countries and the alleged cases of infringements.
9. In addition, relevant information was submitted to the CCJE by the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ), the European Association of Judges (EAJ) and the Association "Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés" (MEDEL). All these organisations have observer status to the CCJE. Their information was related to the cases of alleged non-observance in different member States of the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers CM/Rec (2010)12 on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities. The members of the Bureau decided to integrate this information in the report referring to its sources and the substance of reported cases of concern.
10. It was agreed that the Secretariat would make all necessary changes and additions to the text of the report by 23 September 2013 and send the modified draft to the Bureau. After revision by the Bureau members, the draft would be sent to all CCJE members for their comments which would be used for preparing the final version of the report to be adopted during the CCJE plenary meeting on 13-15 November 2013 in Strasbourg.
11. The Bureau also discussed the operation and technical issues related to the internal database within the framework of the CCJE website. It is established on a country-by-country basis, and relevant information is collected and stored there. There is also a section of multilateral sources which contains information from European organisations such as mentioned above.
III. PREPARATION OF THE OPINION No. 16 AND TOPICS FOR FUTURE OPINIONS
12. The Bureau briefly discussed the process of developing the draft Opinion No. 16 on relations between judges and lawyers and concrete means to improve the efficiency and quality of judicial proceedings (Document CCJE-GT(2013)1rev9). A number of comments had been received on this draft from the members of the CCJE Bureau and the Working Group.
13. Mr van LIEROP suggested making a final review of the amended draft before it would be sent for comments to all CCJE members in view of the forthcoming CCJE plenary meeting. This suggestion was fully supported by the Bureau.
14. The Bureau also discussed the possible future topics for the CCJE Opinions and focused on the following:
· Evaluation of judges’ performance: why, when, how and with what consequences?
· Open and transparent justice: accountability of judicial systems.
In both these topics, the CCJE had accumulated specific and extensive experience which could be used for drafting the corresponding Opinions. The issue of the topics for the CCJE Opinions in 2014-2015 would finally be decided during the plenary meeting in November.
IV. OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE CCJE
15. The Secretariat briefed the Bureau on the projects within the framework of the Council of Europe neighbourhood policy using the tools of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) on judicial time management and the CEPEJ evaluation methodology for judicial systems. In Morocco, the project activities developed very well, and the prospects were very positive. In Tunisia, the situation was not in such an advanced stage. The project in Jordan would start soon.
16. Mr REISSNER informed the Bureau of his participation in the 265th session of the European Committee of Social Rights on 1 July 2013, and the discussion of the cooperation between this Committee and the CCJE, which took place during this session. The Bureau reflected very positively on the prospects of such cooperation, and, in particular, it discussed the possibility of considering the social rights in one of the future opinions of the CCJE.
17. Mr REISSNER also informed the Bureau of his participation, on 18 June 2013, in the launching ceremony of the project implemented in Ukraine by the Division for Legal Cooperation of the Justice and Legal Cooperation Department, DGI. The objective of the project, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is to strengthen the independence, efficiency and professionalism of the Ukrainian judiciary and to facilitate institutional and legislative reforms of the justice system in Ukraine in line with European standards.
18. The members of the Bureau requested the Secretariat to inquire on the status of implementation of this project and underlined that they were ready to contribute to its objectives by providing expert advice on CCJE standards and preparing advisory opinions.
19. The Bureau discussed the issue of the observer status of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE). The Secretariat noted that the formal request was still awaited. When it is received, all members of the CCJE will be consulted by the Secretariat and, unless there are objections, the CCBE will become an observer and can participate in the CCJE plenary meetings and other work.
V. OTHER BUSINESS
20. The Secretariat confirmed that the meeting with Mr Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, requested by the members of the Bureau, would take place in Strasbourg on the eve of the CCJE plenary meeting: at 9:00 on 13 November 2013, and would be dedicated to discussing the CCJE activities.
21. The CCJE plenary meeting would take place on 13-15 November 2013 in Strasbourg.
1. Opening of the meeting / Ouverture de la réunion
2. Adoption of the agenda / Adoption de l’ordre du jour
3. Communication by the President, members of the Bureau and the Secretariat / Communication du Président, des membres du Bureau et du Secrétariat
4. Situation report on the judiciary and judges in the member States (Updated version n°1 (2013)) / Rapport sur la situation du pouvoir judiciaire et des juges dans les Etats membres (Mise à jour n°1 (2013))
5. Other work of the CCJE / Autres travaux du CCJE