EU Enlargement package 2018

April 23rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

 

On 17 April 2018 European Commission adopted its Communication on EU Enlargement Policy 2018, including seven individual reports, assessing the implementation of the European Union’s enlargement policy which is based on established criteria and fair and rigorous conditionality.

In the communication, the Commission puts forward the following conclusions:

  1. The EU’s enlargement policy is an investment in peace, security, prosperity and therefore stability in Europe. It provides increased economic and trade opportunities to the mutual benefit of the EU and the aspiring Member States. The firm prospect of EU membership, as continuously reaffirmed by the EU and its Member States, continues to drive transformation and anchor stability and security in the countries of Southeast Europe.
  2. The enlargement process continues to be built on established criteria and fair and rigorous conditionality. Each country is assessed on the basis of its own merits so as to provide incentives to pursue far-reaching reforms. For the enlargement perspective to become a reality, a firm commitment to the principle of “fundamentals first” remains essential.
  3. The Commission’s Western Balkans strategy, adopted in February 2018, provides a historic window of opportunity to firmly and unequivocally bind the region’s future to the European Union. The countries in the region now need to act with determination to decisively and irreversibly move forward their transformation process and address the existing shortcomings, in particular concerning the fundamentals of rule of law, fundamental rights, democratic institutions and public administration reform, as well as the economy.

The Communication is accompanied with 7 individual reports:

 

Outcome of the conference in Yerevan, Armenia (9 March, 2018)

March 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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The conference “Current challenges and opportunities of the bars and law societies of the Council of Europe Member States” was organised by the Council of Europe Project “Support to the implementation of judicial reform in Armenia”, the CCBE and the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia on 9 March 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia.

The objective of the conference was to provide a platform for sharing information and experiences on the current challenges of the bars and law societies, to explore detrimental issues in the bar associations and to propose concrete steps for strengthening the cooperation and ties amongst the bar associations and law societies of the Council of Europe Member States. The conference also aimed to facilitate a dialogue and exchanges of best practices between the bars and law societies of the different Council of Europe Member States.

Representatives of the bars and law societies of the Council of Europe Member States were invited to participate at the conference.  There were more than 65 participants, mostly from Armenia but also from Ireland, Moldova, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

The exchange which took place between professionals from different countries contributed to a debate about the potential improvements in the bar associations and the legal profession. Even if directions and policies of the bar reforms may differ from country to country, discussion on the primary concepts and challenges were similar for the different Member States of the Council of Europe.

The one day-long discussion included presentations of the experts of the CCBE and other representatives of bars and law societies of different Council of Europe Member States.

The discussions and debates were held on the following topics:

  1. Advocacy ethics – the relations between the attorney and court, data protection and the scope of rules of ethics;
  2. Creation of a cooperation network between attorneys of different Council of Europe Member States.

Participants of the conference also had the possibility to visit the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia.

The CCBE in the conference was represented by the Second Vice-President R. Pelicarić, Chair of the PECO committee S. Balik, Chair of the Towards a Model Code of Conduct Committee J. Klatka, the incoming Chair of the IT Law Committee J. Novak and Legal Advisor on PECO committee issues I. Bule.

The Second Vice-President of the CCBE R. Pelicarić in his opening speech, highlighted the need to reinforce the independence of the bars and encouraged the dialogue between stakeholders in such an important time when judicial reform is taking place in Armenia.

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Presentations of the CCBE speakers:

S.Balik stressed that the lawyer is an amicus curia. The mutual relation between lawyers and judges do not only relate to legal issues but to a much greater extent, it is also a question of professional ethics. He also introduced the audience to the judgement of the judicial disciplinary panel of the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic in 2017 where a judge was sued for out-of-court contacts with a lawyer. He underlined that “the mutual relation of the lawyer and the judge everywhere depends on the fact whether they both are really independent. In a country with a developed legal culture and the rule of law, the relation of the judge and the lawyer is based on collegial cooperation and mutual respect.”

J.Novak presented the importance of the protection of clients’ data against unlawful interception, stressing that the right to a fair trial and right to privacy is regulated by the European Convention on Human Rights. He introduced the audience to the CCBE guidance on Improving the IT Security of Lawyers Against Unlawful Surveillance. Several practical examples were provided, and several cases examined by the speaker to better illustrate the topic.

J.Klatka in his presentation on the scope and content of the rules of ethics concentrated on issues such as independence, confidentiality, and conflict of interest.

The programme and the presentations of the speakers are available here.

Commission communication on the Western Balkans

March 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

On 6 February, 2018 the European Commission adopted a strategy “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans” (COM(2018) 65 and Annex).

The Strategy confirms the European future of the region as a geostrategic investment in a stable, strong and united Europe based on common values. It spells out the priorities and areas of joint reinforced cooperation, addressing the specific challenges the Western Balkans face, in particular the need for fundamental reforms and good neighbourly relations. A credible enlargement perspective requires sustained efforts and irreversible reforms. Progress along the European path is an objective and merit-based process which depends on the concrete results achieved by each individual country.

The European Commission also announced six flagship initiatives – specific actions that the EU will take over the next years to support the transformation efforts of the Western Balkans in areas of mutual interest. In particular:

  • strengthen the rule of law,
  • reinforce engagement on security and migration;
  • enhance support for socio-economic development;
  • increase transport ad energy connectivity;
  • develop digital agenda for the Western Balkans;
  • support reconciliations and good neighbourly relations.

As regards the rule of law – the existing tools, such as detailed action plans, will be expanded to all Western Balkans countries. Assessment of reform implementation will be enhanced, including through new advisory missions. Greater use will be made of leverage provided in the negotiating frameworks with Montenegro and Serbia.

General information about the enlargement process and the provisional timeline for 2018 is also provided by the European Commission.

9 March 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia – CONFERENCE “Current challenges and opportunities of the bars and law societies of the Council of Europe member states”

February 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The Conference “Current challenges and opportunities of the bars and law societies of the Council of Europe member states” is organised by the Council of Europe Project “Support to the implementation of judicial reform in Armenia”, the CCBE and the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia on 9 March 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia.

The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for sharing information and experience on the current challenges of the bars and law societies, explore detrimental issues in the bar associations and propose concrete steps for strengthening the cooperation and ties amongst the bar associations and law societies of the Council of Europe member states.

The main objective of the Conference is to facilitate a dialogue and exchange of the best practice between the bars and law societies of different Council of Europe member states. The exchange that will take place between professionals from different countries shall create a solid platform for argumentation and it seeks to generate and contribute to a wider debate about the potential improvements in the bar associations and for the profession of an advocate. Even if the directions and the policies of the bar reforms may differ from country to country, discussion on the primary concepts and challenges unites different Council of Europe member states.

The discussions and debates will be held on the following topics:

  1. Advocacy ethics

1.1    The relations between the attorney and court, respectful behaviour towards the court.

1.2    Data protection.

1.3    The scope of rules of ethics: personal, social and professional aspects

  1. Creation of cooperation network between attorneys of different Council of Europe member states — this session is aimed at discussing the possibility of the creation of a platform for more effective cooperation.

Registration deadline: 28 February 2018.

E-mail for registration and additional information regarding the conference: narine.gasparyan@coe.int

Program of the conferenceAdditional information. 

CCBE: Human Rights Award 2017 is granted to Georgian lawyer Zaza Khatiashvili

November 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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On 24 November 2017, during the Plenary Session in Brussels, the CCBE granted its 2017 Human Rights Award to the Chairman of the Georgian Bar Association Zaza Khatiashvili.
Mr. Zaza Khatiashvili has been active in the defence of human rights in the international area and at the national stage.
Read more.

EU report: Evaluation of Ukrainian reforms shows considerable progress but need to accelerate implementation to reap full benefits

November 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The report, which was published yesterday, provides in section 2.3 ‘Justice, Freedom and Security’, amongst others: “The implementation of justice reforms continued. The perceived level of judicial independence remains very low but is increasing according to the latest survey by the World Economic Forum of businesses’ perceptions.”

The report is available here (see pages 6-8 for section 2.3 ‘Justice, Freedom and Security’).

Joint UNBA-CCBE conference on Advocates’ Rights and Obligations in Investigative Proceedings

October 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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Date: 10 November 2017

Place: Kiev, Ukraine

Programme: click here to access the programme.

ICJ: Russian Federation – authorities must repudiate intimidation of lawyer

October 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The full press release of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) can be downloaded here.

Poland: Preliminary observations by the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers

October 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Preliminary observations on the official visit to Poland (23-27 October 2017) by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Diego  García-Sayán,Warsaw, 27 October 2017:

Preliminary conclusions and recommendations

The independence of justice is under serious threat in Poland today.

I acknowledge that the reform and modernization of judicial institutions is a legitimate objective for any Government to pursue. However, I cannot but stress that the judicial reform that the Polish Government is putting in place to address the shortcomings currently affecting the Polish judicial system will, in the long run, have a long-lasting, adverse effect on the independence of its judicial system.

The current reform, undertaken by the governing majority in haste, and without proper consultation with the opposition, the judiciary and civil society actors, including the Office of the Ombudsman, risks hampering the capacity of judicial authorities to ensure checks and balances and protect and promote human rights.

The first victim of this unilateral approach is the Constitutional Tribunal, whose authority has been seriously undermined by the dispute currently underway relating to its composition and the legality of the some of its ruling. In such circumstances, the Tribunal is actually in no position to ensure an effective constitutional review of the acts adopted by the legislative authorities.

It is high time that all political forces commit to sit at the negotiating table and engage in good faith in a constructive dialogue aimed at restoring the authority of the Tribunal and its role as guarantor of the supremacy of the Constitution.

Any long-lasting solution to the constitutional situation that Poland is facing today should be firmly rooted on the principles of the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers, and take into account previous rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal, such as those of 3 and 9 December 2015.

The same principles apply to the reform of the ordinary court system, the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary. The independence of the judiciary is enshrined in the Polish Constitution, and it is the duty of the Government and legislative authority to respect and protect this essential principle of rule of law. In accordance with the principle of separation of powers, the Government and the Parliament must refrain from any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial process, particularly in relation to the appointment, dismissal and promotion of members of the judiciary.

They must also ensure that any modification of the mandatory retirement age does not adversely impact the security of tenure of judges.

The way out of this critical moment is to promote a fair, open and transparent process involving not only the parliamentary majority and the opposition, but also the judiciary, the Office of the Ombudsman and civil society actors. Any reform of the judiciary should aim at strengthening, not at undermining, the independence of the justice system and its actors. The independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers must constitute the guiding principles of any such reform.

***

You can read the full preliminary observations here.

Poland: CCJE Bureau publishes opinion on the Draft Act of September 2017

October 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Click here to read the Opinion of the Bureau of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) re Draft Act of September 2017 presented by the President of Poland amending the Act on the Polish National Council of the Judiciary and certain other acts.