International cooperation

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 International cooperation

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  • ​Independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism are the core values of the judiciary. All though these values have not changed, society has, not in the least because of globalisation. The judiciary finds itself in a rapidly internationalised legal order, both within the European Union and outside it. This demands a wide cross-border perspective with regard to judicial cooperation and international relations. The Council for the Judiciary deems it an important part of its tasks to promote and protect the rule of law, both on an national and an international level.

    On the following pages, you can find information about the way the Netherlands Judiciary has organised its international cooperation.

  • EU Civilian Missions

    The European Union pursues a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), as part of which it organises civilian missions (as opposed to military missions) for the purpose of reinforcing the Rule of Law. The Dutch government contributes to these missions by providing Rule of Law experts employed by the Public Prosecution Service, the prison system and the judicial branch. These experts provide their services in EU neighbouring countries, developing countries, and in international peace missions. In their day-to-day work, they advise foreign partners on how to strengthen the rule of law and the judicial chain.

    Selection process

    The Council for the Judiciary is the Dutch authority that provides advice on the participation of employees of the Judiciary. Once the Council has approved participation, the selection process at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can begin. The International Cooperation division at the Council can provide information on current EU civilian missions and on how the selection process is conducted.

  • Priority Country Policy

    The Council for the Judiciary often receives requests for cooperation from other countries. In order to use its limited capacity as effectively as possible, the Council has developed a Priority Country Policy. The priority countries, with which we are working on building long-term relationships, which includes using experts for projects and promoting exchange programmes, are Romania, Suriname and Turkey. We have also designated a number of ‘focal countries’, with which we work together at a less ambitious level. This group includes the potential EU Member States and Candidate Member States, along with Indonesia and Morocco. For all other countries, we only give a standard presentation about the Judiciary, and in some cases organise a court visit.


    Launched by the European Commission in 1998, TwinningU verlaat  is one of the European Union’s main Institution Building programmes. The programme is designed to assist and support the beneficiary countries (Candidate and Potential EU Member States) in developing a modern and efficient government, so as to allow them to implement European Community Law (acquis communautaire). As part of the Twinning programme, national experts in the Member States work closely with their peers in the beneficiary country in order to implement the necessary reforms.

    The Council for the Judiciary is currently involved in a Twinning project headed by Germany related to ‘the Judiciary and the Media’ in Turkey. After a series of study trips to the Netherlands, judges will be trained in Turkey later this year on the role of the media and appropriate conduct.


    Beside the EU Twinning projects, the Council also contributes to international projects by searching for and providing experts within the Judiciary who give training courses and seminars and advise on legislative issues. As part of these efforts, the Council is working closely with the Ministries of Security and Justice and Foreign Affairs, as well as with organisations that are independently involved in developing the rule of law in other parts of the world, including the Centre for International Legal Cooperation ( and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (

    Study visits

    The Council regularly welcomes international delegations on study visits. These groups are often part of existing partnerships such as Twinning, training courses or other international projects, while the Council also receives many requests on an occasional basis. The Council consults with other organisations involved in order to assess whether the request can be honoured and determine what might be a suitable programme.

    If you would like to make a request for a visit to the Council, please download this form (pdf, 621.8 KB) and send it to

  • Europeanisation and Eurinfra

    The Eurinfra project was launched in 2000 with the objective of improving knowledge of European law within the Dutch Judiciary. The main objectives were to improve accessibility of the sources of information related to European law through web technology; improving knowledge of European law among Dutch judges, and supporting, establishing and maintaining a network of court coordinators specialising in European law (Gerechtscoördinatoren Europees Recht). For an overview of activities designed to promote a European focus within the Judiciary, please see our English brochure about the Eurinfra project (pdf, 301.2 KB).

    The initial objectives of the Eurinfra project, in which CBB, Bistro (currently known as IVO Rechtspraak), SSR and the Council all collaborated, have since been achieved, but the project is still running, having been integrated into the Judiciary’s quality policy In order to promote professionalism and expertise, it is important to maintain a continuing focus on European and international law. The Council once again highlighted the importance of this in the Agenda of the Judiciary 2011-2014.

    Exchange programmes, Mutual benefit

    The general objective of the exchange programmes is to improve mutual insight, understanding and confidence in adjudication in the EU Member States. This confidence is important both in terms of the recognition between the countries of court rulings and decisions and in terms of promoting uniformity of law in the European Union. Particularly when it comes to recognition between the Member States, a basic trust in each other’s legal systems (organisation) is essential – a trust based on insight and understanding. In addition, maintaining trust in the adjudication of other countries will ultimately also make both the Judiciary and the parties involved more efficient. Finally, these types of exchange programmes encourage the parties involved to reflect on their own systems and organisation, thereby improving the quality of the Dutch legal system.

    International exchange

    A number of Dutch courts have been actively involved in organising international activities, including in the form of long-term exchange programmes with courts based in EU Member States and beyond. Many Dutch judges regularly attend conferences and symposiums abroad, and promoting knowledge of European law is a key focus as well.

    International judges’ networks

    There are many different networks all over the world devoted to justice and adjudication (both dealing with legal and more practical issues), and we have seen the emergence of various ‘functional’ judges’ networks (focusing on competition law, environmental law, commercial law, immigration law, and juvenile and family law). The Council for the Judiciary is actively involved in the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (

    These networks can potentially play an important role in increasing knowledge, identifying and monitoring relevant trends and developments, and representing interests. Network members have the opportunity to discuss problems relating to the application of EU law, as well as to disseminate relevant court decisions. In association with the court boards, the Council for the Judiciary has taken it upon itself to promote the participation of Dutch judges in these networks. Against this background, it was decided that members of the Dutch judiciary should be given the opportunity to participate in European and/or international networks and/or conferences relevant to the Dutch judiciary.

  • The Council has access to an expert pool of judges in order to be able to meet the need from other countries for expertise from the Netherlands Judiciary. This export pool is intended both for judges who have already gained experience abroad and for judges who have a proven interest in international cooperation and would like to acquire experience in this area.

    The Council’s International Cooperation division consults this expert pool after receiving requests to provide experts for the purpose of bilateral cooperation, including Twinning; developing the rule of law elsewhere in the world, and for study visits. There is also a demand for expertise in providing training courses and participating in seminars and conferences in the Netherlands and abroad. Finally, the Council draws on the export pool in relation to membership in international judges’ networks and participation in the EU’s civilian missions in which the Netherlands is involved.

  • The European Evidence Regulation enables courts of law based in Member States to make requests for obtaining evidence from courts located in other Member States. The Regulation provides for the relationship with specific treaties relating to internationally obtaining evidence.

    Judicial Atlas

    The European Commission established the European Atlas for Civil MattersU verlaat . If you are looking for a competent court or competent authority for the use of a specific instrument (delivery or notification of documents, European order for payment, etc.), you can consult the relevant section of the Atlas.

    The search engine for courts in the Member States listed in this section includes the names and addresses of all courts competent in civil cases or commercial cases in the European Union Member States (courts of the first instance, courts of appeal, etc.), including the territorial scope of their jurisdiction.

    Central Body: Council for the Judiciary

    The implementation law of the European Evidence Regulation lists the Council as the central body for the Netherlands. The Council forwards requests it receives from the Member States to the competent court. The central body acts as an intermediary, its main duties being:

    • Providing information to the courts.
    • Finding solutions in case of any problems relating to requests.
  • Membership

    The Council for the Judiciary monitors European trends and developments through its active involvement in the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ). The ENCJ provides a solid platform for knowledge exchange, as well as strengthening the positions of European judicial organisations in Brussels. Membership is open to all national institutions in the EU Member States, which operate independently of the legislative and executive branches of government, and which are ultimately responsible for supporting and ensuring the impartial and independent judicial branch. Click here for information on the members and observers of the ENCJ. The Council for the Judiciary was one of the initiators of the ENCJ and has been a member of the organisation’s Steering Committee since its establishment in 2004. The ENCJ is managed by a president and an executive board and also maintains a General Assembly, consisting of representatives of the members, which convenes annually.

    The ENCJ's mission

    The ENCJ is the central body connecting the European judicial organisations in the EU Member States and represents them in the EU. The organisation promotes independent, responsible adjudication and best practices in order to allow the judiciary to ensure timely and effective justice for all.

    Objectives of the ENCJ

    • Strengthening long-term relationships with EU institutions.
    • Optimising the process of providing expertise and opinions to the legal sector.
    • Promoting independent Councils for the Judiciary.
    • Enabling the judiciary to ensure timely and effective justice for all.


    • Belgium - Hoge Raad voor de Justitie
    • Bulgaria - Supreme Judicial Council
    • Denmark - Domstolsstyrelsen
    • England and Wales - Judges' Council of England and Wales
    • France - Conseil supérieur de la magistrature
    • Ireland - Courts' Service
    • Italy - Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura
    • Latvia - Tieslietu Padome
    • Lithuania - Teisėjų Taryba
    • Malta - Commission for the Administration of Justice
    • The Netherlands - Netherlands Council for the Judiciary
    • Northern Ireland - Judges' Council
    • Poland - Krajowa Rada Sądownictwa
    • Portugal - Conselho superior da magistratura
    • Romenia - Consiliul Superior al Magistraturii
    • Scotland - Judicial Council
    • Slowakia - Súdna rada Slovenskej republiky
    • Slovenia - Republika Slovenija Sodni Svet
    • Spain - Consejo General del Poder Judicial


    • Court of Justice of the European Union
    • Austria - Ministry of Justice
    • Croatia - Drzavno sudbeno vijéce / State Judicial Council
    • Cyprus - Ministry of Justice
    • Czech Republic - Ministry of Justice
    • Estland - Ministry of Justice
    • Finland - Ministry of Justice
    • Germany - Ministry of Justice
    • Hungary - Országos Bírói Tanács
    • Luxembourg - Ministry of Justice
    • Macedonia - Sudski Sovet na Republika Makedonija
    • Montenegro - Sudski savjet Crne Gore
    • Norway - Domstolsadministrasjonen
    • Serbia - Високи савет судства
    • Turkey - Hâkimler ve Savcılar Yüksek Kurulu
    • Sweden - Domstolsverket


    In order to achieve the wider objectives, members of the ENCJ actively exchange knowledge and information regarding the organisation and procedures of the judiciary. For one, a large number of surveys are distributed within the ENCJ dealing with a wide variety of issues.

    The Council’s International Cooperation Division is responsible for completing these surveys, in which it often consults with members of the judiciary.