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EU aims to train 700,000 legal professionals in EU law by 2020

14 September 2011
by eub2 -- last modified 14 September 2011

The European Commission has set a clear target for increasing the numbers of judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal practitioners trained in European law.


In a policy paper agreed on 13 September, the European Commission aims to ensure that half of all legal practitioners in the European Union – around 700,000 – participate in some form of European judicial training by 2020. The aim is to equip legal practitioners to apply European law – which is part of their role as judges and lawyers at national level. It will also help to build mutual trust between Europe's different legal systems and improve the implementation of European legislation. This will benefit people and businesses in Europe, who will be able to rely on swift decisions and proper respect for the rules.


There are around 1.4 million legal practitioners in the EU, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and court staff. The Commission wants to enable at least half of these legal practitioners to participate in European judicial training at local, national or European level by 2020. It has set an additional target of ensuring that all legal practitioners benefit from at least one week's training in EU law during their career.

To achieve this, it has called on national governments, councils for the judiciary, professional bodies and judicial training institutions both at EU and national level to commit to integrating EU law into their training programmes and to increasing the volume of courses and participants.

The Commission itself intends to facilitate access to EU funding to support high-quality training projects, including e-learning. Under the EU's new multi-annual financial framework, the Commission has proposed to make European judicial training a major priority, with the aim of training more than 20,000 legal practitioners a year by 2020.

To help build a common European judicial culture based on mutual trust, the Commission will launch a two-week exchange programme for new judges and prosecutors from 2014 onwards. The Commission will support training through the European e-Justice Portal – the EU's one-stop shop for laws and access to justice in all EU countries – and by sharing practical guidelines on training methodologies and evaluation.

The Commission will also encourage public-private partnerships to develop innovative training solutions. The Commission will build on the strengths of all existing training providers, including the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), the Academy of European Law (ERA) and the European-level legal professional organisations: the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), the Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the EU, the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the EU, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), the Council of Notaries of the EU (CNUE), International Union of Judicial Officers (UIHJ) and the European Legal Interpreters and Translators Association (EULITA).

European judicial training may take place during initial or life-long training periods. It covers:

    EU legislation, including substantive and procedural law, together with the corresponding case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union,

    knowledge of national judicial systems.

These strands may be supported by linguistic training. The European judicial training scheme includes two complementary components: judicial training activities in general, whether organised at local, national or European level, and cross-border exchanges.

Legal Basis

Judicial training is primarily a national responsibility, as highlighted in a Council Resolution in 2008. The Lisbon Treaty (articles 81.2.h and 82.1.c of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), calls on the EU to "support the training of the judiciary and of judicial staff" in both civil and criminal matters.

Training judges and legal practitioners in how to apply European law is one of the key recommendations for action of former European Commissioner Mario Monti's report on 9 May 2010 “A New Strategy for the Single Market.” The report urged European leaders to remove the remaining bottlenecks that are hampering innovation and dampening Europe's growth potential.

The Stockholm Programme, which outlines measures to create a single area of justice in the EU, was endorsed by national governments in December 2009 and called for strong EU action to support national training efforts as well as developing EU level training mechanisms. The European Parliament has also consistently underlined that proper judicial training contributes significantly towards improving the operation of the internal market and making it easier for citizens to exercise their rights.

At the end of 2010, the Commission consulted Member States, Justice Forum members, the European Judicial Training Network and its members. The summary of the findings of the consultation can be found here.

Further information:

European judicial training

European e-Justice Portal

Source: European Commission

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