June 3, 2015

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'By learning we can excel as Judiciaries'

The network of Councils for the Judiciary is of vital importance to the development of independent judiciaries in Europe, chairman of the Dutch Council for the Judiciary Frits Bakker said Wednesday.

Frits Bakker addressed the Members of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) at the headquarters of the Dutch Council in a short speech, together with the Mayor of The Hague and ENCJ President Lord Justice Geoffrey Vos. Frits Bakker said that ‘by cooperating we can learn from the best. By learning we can excel as judiciaries. And by excelling we can assure the best justice for all European citizens.’

General assembly

In the coming days, the ENCJ Members will gather for their 11th General Assembly in the Peace Palace in The Hague. ‘What better place to discuss further cooperation between the Judiciaries in Europe’, Chairman Frits Bakker said. After all, at the Peace Palace ‘the foundations for international tribunals were established.’


New members: Croatia and Hungary, Albania observer

Frits Bakker reminded the gathering that at the birth of the ENCJ in 2004, the network consisted of 13 members. ‘Today’, he said ‘we welcomed two new members and one new observer, resulting in a total of 22 members and 16 observers.’ At the closed session on Wednesday, the National Judicial Council of Croatia and the National Council of Hungary were admitted to the ENCJ, while the new observer is the High Council of Justice in Albania.


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Turning point

In his speech ENCJ President Sir Geoffrey Vos added that the General Assembly in The Hague promises to be something of a turning point for the network. Because, he said: ‘The past years, we have talked about what we might do in the future.  This year, we are talking about some concrete achievements of the past year and we are looking forward to some more concrete achievements that we are all excited about producing in the coming year.’

EU Justice Scoreboard

In the last year, the ENCJ has had a discernible impact on the strength and depth of the EU Justice Scoreboard, Geoffrey Vos added. ‘We have been able to do something alongside the Commission which the Commission could not do by itself.'

Euope wide survey

This year’s Assembly in The Hague is entitled ‘Promoting Effective Justice Systems’. An apt heading, according to Lord Justice Vos, since ‘it is impossible to have an effective justice system if both the judges and the system itself are not each both independent and accountable.’ The ENCJ has undertaken the first-ever Europe wide survey of judges’ views about their own independence with ‘some extremely interesting results’, according to the ENCJ President.

Draft report

On Thursday in the Peace Palace, ENCJ Members will discuss the draft report on ‘Independence and Accountability’, containing a survey among 5.878 European judges in more than 20 countries. ‘But our work on independence and accountability is really only the beginning’, ENCJ President Geoffrey Vos warned. ‘I hope we will be moving forward this year to identify what it means to have an effective high quality justice system, and how that can be achieved in all parts of Europe.’