The EU continues to grow, with several countries in south-east Europe such as Albania and Serbia expecting to join the bloc in the coming years. In such a context, it is crucial to examine the 'constitutionalisation' of the European judicial system and how each country's reforms are influencing their judicial culture, particularly in south-east Europe. This was the aim of the EU-funded project EURJTC (Judicial training in European enlargement. Towards a common judicial culture?). In more precise terms, the project team studied the relationship between judicial training and judicial culture in different European countries. It assessed institutionalisation from five perspectives: transnational judicial networking, judicial training policies, judicial cooperation, dissemination of national judicial decisions and knowledge management tools. Importantly, EURJTC also examined the role of national courts and judicial procedures to define a 'judicial Europe', focusing on sensitive topics not adequately discussed. Once such topic focused on preferring vertical communication (between European and national courts) over horizontal coordination (among national courts). Others included examining supremacy issues, underestimation of informal dialogue and neglecting the role of lower-level judges. Noteworthy as well was the issue of identifying preconditions for courts and judges to accept and effectively fulfil their European mandate in applying EU and local law. Untangling these issues helps define EU justice policy and promote harmonisation of judicial practices, benefiting particularly those who develop and implement judicial training policies. The project's results could also support policymaking at the level of EU Directorates-General such as DG Justice, DG Competition and DG Environment. Several conference papers and articles have emerged from the project, which will undoubtedly help stakeholders to further judicial research on a pan-European scale.
Judicial culture, constitutionalisation, judicial training, European enlargement, judges, justice policy