What and who

The Judges@Europe Forum was brought to life reflecting the European Council Conclusions of 11 March 2021, entitled Boosting Training of Justice Professionals. The document emphasizes the critical role of judicial training in building a common European judicial culture based on the rule of law, mutual trust, and respect for fundamental rights, as well as in ensuring the correct and uniform application of EU law and the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-border judicial proceedings in the EU. The conclusions called for the European Commission to support the existing European networks to promote and enhance the dialogue among judges, which is key to the consolidation of the rule of law and the further development of a common judicial culture in Europe.

The Forum is a special training activity, that provides a safe and confidential space for judges from the Member States of the EU where topics related to rule of law and judgecraft can be discussed, among others. The 60 participants are selected by lot among judges from different member states, with different professional backgrounds, and working in different jurisdictions.

The 3rd edition of the Forum will take place between 18th and 21st of November 2024, in Sicily, Italy, at the Siracuse International Institute.

What was discussed in the last two editions?

The first edition of the Forum was held in May 2022. The theme of the event was the rule of law and judicial culture and gathered 38 judges and combined a theoretical approach to European jurisprudence with hands-on practical methods through workshop sessions and peer consultation on real-life cases. Participants analysed the characteristics of the rule of law using authentic judicial contexts, exchanges of experiences, and best practices and addressed further issues such as the impact on the integrity and independence of the judiciary, the application of self-empowerment and resilience techniques to promote and protect judges from the potential negative effects of stressors, and what the individual judge can do to protect the rule of law. The topic of freedom of speech served as the foundation for some of the case studies.

Organised in 2023 around the main theme of accountability, the second edition covered disciplinary proceedings and liability, performance monitoring, and transparency. In each session, plenary discussions and group workshops were organised, building upon the presentations and offering an area of free speech and confidentiality to the participants. The focus of the second edition was the contemporary challenges that good administration of justice and increased demand for judges’ accountability raise for judicial offices in the digital era.

What will be the theme and key topics of this year’s edition?

The theme of the third edition of the Judges@Europe Forum will be impartiality. The introductory sessions will highlight cases of the CJEU and the ECtHR to help participants distinguish between internal and external independence and impartiality. Further presentations will address the equality of arms and how adversarial (contradictory) proceedings can be ensured in certain cases, especially when highly confidential or highly sensitive documents are offered as evidence. Focus-group discussions will assess the effect artificial intelligence and technology have on the impartiality of the judge, what risks judges need to face endangering their look of impartiality just by living in society, and how the media and public opinion can influence judges in their decisions.

The primary aim of the forum that judges will share their own experience, learn from each other during the discussions, and increase their knowledge on these specific aspects of fair trial rights.

The following key topics will be touched upon during the sessions:

  • Mediation and conciliation
  • The principle of equality of arms in an adversarial procedure
  • Judges and the social networks
  • Political participation of judges
  • Relations with other legal professionals
  • Handling politically sensitive cases with media attention
  • How to safeguard your impartiality
  • Impact of digitalisation on judicial decision-making
  • AI algorithms, profiling, and access to justice

Who can apply, and how can the application be submitted?

Judges can apply from the Member States of the European Union, except Denmark. We ask those who attended the first or second edition of the Judges@Europe Forum to refrain from applying again. Applicants who attended the forum before, will not be accepted.

The application can be submitted directly through the following QR:

What will be the selection procedure, and what are the conditions of participation?

The applications will be kept confidential. The participants will be selected by drawing a lot by country (maximum 3 per member state), and after being informed, they will need to confirm their participation directly to EJTN. After this confirmation, the participants can decide if they want to inform the national training institution or their court administration about the selection. EJTN will not share any information on the selection with the national contact points.

Participants are responsible for booking their own travel, and EJTN will reimburse them. Transfer from Catania Airport will be provided. Accommodation and catering will be provided for the participants from 18 to 21 November 2024. The participants will be required to arrive on Monday (18/11) until 17:00 and travel back on Thursday morning (21/11).

The forum is organised under Chatham House rules: the participants are free to use the information they receive, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. The participants can decide if they want to appear in any pictures taken at the event or not. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance, but EJTN does not inform the national contact points about their participation.

What can you expect to gain from attending the Judges@Europe Forum?

The language of the event will be English and French. We provide simultaneous interpretation. The participants shall have sufficient skills and confidence to speak and interact in either of these languages.

Aside from some presentations, there will be working groups and networking breakouts with the aim enhancing open discussion among the participants. The 2024 event, in line with the spirit of the previous two editions, will be highly interactive, promoting dynamic exchanges of ideas and experiences among participants, facilitators, and experts. All the activities are carefully tailored to promote active participation and collaborative learning.

Renowned experts will deliver keynote speeches on the 2024 theme’s key topics. These sessions will provide valuable insights while provoking dialogue and reflection among participants. A Q&A segment will follow each speech, encouraging participants to pose questions, share their perspectives, and engage in meaningful discussions.

Presentations will focus on real-life cases and experiences related to the specified topics of the 2024 program. We will emphasize interactive elements like live polls, breakout discussions, and feedback loops in these sessions to foster active engagement and explore multiple viewpoints.

As per the tradition of the Judges@Europe Forum, the working groups will be a cornerstone of the event, offering participants the opportunity to delve deeper into specific topics through collaborative exercises. Facilitators will coordinate these sessions by means of role-playing, scenario analysis, and problem-solving exercises. This approach will encourage collaborative learning and facilitate the creation of practical solutions and strategies applicable in their respective professional settings.

We will integrate informal networking sessions into the programme, giving participants the opportunity to build relationships, share experiences, and further develop a supportive community of colleagues. These sessions will be designed to create an environment where participants feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and learning from each other’s experiences.

The detailed programme and the list of invited speakers will be available in July.

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