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Judicial Training in European Enlargement<br/>Towards a Common Judicial Culture?

Final Report Summary - EURJTC (Judicial Training in European Enlargement<br/>Towards a Common Judicial Culture?)

Main results, conclusions and policy impact
The “constitutionalization” of the European judicial system has become a mainstream topic among European legal scholars. The consolidation of the “constitutionalizing” approach to the European judicial system in the last fifteen years ran parallel to the gradual creation of a “genuine area of justice” since 1999. Sure enough, the acknowledgment of the role of (national) courts and judicial procedures in the history of the European integration dates back to thirty years ago with the elaboration of the integration-through-law approach. Still, the term “constitutionalization” in the European debate, and even more so with reference to the judicial system, is a rather undefined and ambiguous one. Notwithstanding the huge amount of scholarship on the topic of “judicial Europe”, its importance does not hide some of their limits in understanding the process of “constitutionalization”. Namely: the fact of privileging the vertical perspective (communication between European and national courts) against the horizontal coordination between national courts; the prevailing focus on supremacy issues, overlooking the day-to-day application (and consistent interpretation) of law; the privileged focus on cross-references in court decisions in order to disclose the existence of judicial dialogue, underestimating informal and less visible forms of dialogue; the limitation of the object of analysis to Constitutional courts, neglecting the role of ordinary and administrative judges and legal professionals in general; last but not least, the lack of reflection on what the European judicial community is, and should be. Regarding in particular the acceptance by national courts of their mandate as European courts, scholars strived to explain its reasons – the “why?” – resorting to legalist explanations, empowerment thesis, inter-court competition arguments. Yet, another fundamental question to be answered is “how?”: which are the preconditions for courts – judges – to accept and effectively fulfill their European mandate in the day-to-day application of (EU) law?
The research project investigated therefore a field of research that is essential also in terms of EU justice policy (answering the need to reach a minimum degree of harmonization of judicial practices given that the mere enactment of common legal rules is not sufficient), complementing existing studies with a more systemic socio-legal approach. The broader research in which the project was situated aims at assessing the process of institutionalization of the “European judicial system” through the achievements attained in five fields: transnational communication (judicial networking); judicial training policies; judicial cooperation in the strict sense; dissemination of national judicial decisions (creation of judicial databases and translation of national case law); development of knowledge management tools and common institutional arrangements.
The proposal focused in particular on the relations between national and CJEU judges and among national judges themselves – especially through transnational associations of judges but also through other channels – resulting in the development of a core European judicial community; and explored the development of European judicial training policies and their impact on national judicial practice.
As mentioned before, the project has a policy dimension targeting in particular the European Commission, its DG Justice, as well as other DGs (such as DG Competition and Environment). More in general, the research addresses those actors involved in the elaboration and implementation of judicial training policies in the EU and, more broadly, the enactment of specific measures for a more effective functioning of the European Area of Justice, including European and national judges (many of whom actually showed their interest in the research during research interviews). Notably, the research highlighted some inconsistencies between, on the one hand, the push towards the creation of a European area of justice and the consolidation of judicial training policies within the framework of the 2011 Communication on judicial training (which is consistent with the ncrease of the Justice programme for the period 2014-2020), on the other, the funding decrease for European networks. Sure enough, this is a consequence not just of the Commission standpoint, networks of judicial professional – as private-law associations composed of national public officials, dealing with issues related to the Europeanization of national legal systems – stand in a delicate position, at the crossroads between the European and the national legal systems. This explains the financial reluctance of both European and national institutions. Nonetheless, judicial networking should be further supported, as the involvement of national judges is to be considered essential for the development of effective judicial training policies in the European area, as the investigation of this aspect highlighted. In brief, empirical research conducted in these fields can be therefore extremely useful for policy elaboration and the implementation in these two areas on which both the European Parliament and the European Commission are paying strong attention.
Regarding these topics, during the fulfilment of the project, the researcher drafted nine conference papers and published two articles related to the research on international peer-reviewed journals and one on Italian peer-reviewed online journal. Articles and papers are reported below (section 2). The researcher expects to publish on international journals in the following months two more articles based on the research activity carried on in the last year (including data collection, semi-structured interviews with judicial professionals, and draft papers): notably, on the “Development of Judicial Training Policies in the EU” and on the “Institutionalization of the European Area of Justice”. It is also foreseen the future completion and publication (half 2015) of a volume on “Building the European Area of Justice: a comparison with the US” on which the researcher started working in August 2014.