The presiding president gave his report to the general assembly, which had been distributed in French version before. The president therein briefly points out the board activities.
Referring to the association's relations and activities with other international partners in general, he laid stress on the meeting of the board (with exception of Mr. Heinrich Zens due to health reasons) with Mr. Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for the Directorate General “Justice, freedom and security” on 1 March 2006 in Brussels. This meeting was five years after the meeting with his predecessor, Mr Vitorino, and intended to strengthen the association's links with the European Commission. During the interview, the present board members had particularly given emphasis the need of better visibility and recognition of administrative jurisdiction, which is quoted as such in none of the above mentioned documents of the Commission and of the Council while at the same time it plays a prominent role in the control of the application of Community standards, either in the area of Directorate General "Justice, freedom and security” competence (Asylum, immigration, anti-discrimination measures) or beyond (environmental protection, public procurement, competition law and states’aid...) and for the adoption by the Commission of working methods allowing effective cooperation of the judges’associations to its work programme. The president furthermore could now report to the general assembly that he received notice from Lorenzo Salazar, Italian judge in Mr Frattini's Cabinet, who had been present at the interview, stating that he included the association in the list of the recipients of the most recent Commission’s initiatives.
In this context, Mr. Vincent pointed out that the activities of the European Association of Administrative Judges (hereinafter: the Association) in the European Union generally is too weak. Thus Article 1 of the statutes of the Association were not fulfilled. It were important to renew links with the European Commission, especially with the resort of the presiding Commissioner Mr. Frattini.
Mr. Vincent referred as well to the summary of the meeting with Mr. Frattini, which can be read also on the homepage of the Association (www.aeaj.org). In this context emphasis was given to the importance of evaluation of the quality of justice and of implementation of European law by administrative judges.
The presiding president, Mr. Vincent, also stressed that the association should be more active and visible with respect to the European Parliament, as a number of deputies are involved with concerns of the Association as well and financial support could possibly be given by the European Parliament.
He firmly expressed the need of the “bigger” State's national associations to be more active in regard of the high number of their members.
He gave report of his meeting in June 2005 with three of the DG Environment civil servants, which aimed at defining the methods of our cooperation with the Commission in this area, especially after the creation in 2004 of a specialized association, the European Union Forum of judges for the environment.
He furthermore made personal contact with Mrs. Kirschbaum, the person in charge of the EU funding programme TAIEX and thus achieved a funding of this years meeting of administrative judges in Beaulieu in March 2006.
Furthermore the presiding president pointed out that the Council of Europe is an important forum for issues regarding justice. The Association has been participating in the Council of Europe (namely participation in the activities of the legal Committee of administrative law and of its working-party (CJDA and CJDA-GT), second participation in Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) and third participation in Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ),devoted this year to the definition of minimum rules of good administration, which is also a good opportunity to get in contact with participants of countries which are not yet member states, especially from Eastern Europe. Thus it was given emphasis to the fact that the association’s contribution to the activities of the Council of Europe are now well institutionalized. Although the Council of Europe has more modest means that those of the Commission and elaborates only not binding instruments, cooperation with it is not to be neglected. This is specially true in the light of its activities, of which certain parts concern the administrative jurisdiction specifically, its new ambitions that it recently sets up and irreplaceable meeting occasions between colleagues caused by its various committees and working parties.
Hence he gave note to the relation with the ERA, European Academy of Law in Trier, where the association has a statutory seat. The ERA informs us each six-months period of its draft training programme on which we give an opinion and make various suggestions (per the ex officio delegate of the association in the board of trustees of ERA). However, the association was not able to activate participants of the member states for seminars offered by the ERA in the field of anti-discrimination or European competition law.
Finally the presiding president gave also notice to a conference, organized by the European Union Forum of judges for the environment in London in December 2005 on European waste law, which he attended also on invitation of its British Secretary-General.
The next item of the agenda was the accession of new members.
The presiding president reported that two Latvian colleagues keep contact with the association. Only the Slovenian Association of Judges joined the Association last year.
Concern was expressed regarding the Spanish and Portuguese colleagues who are not yet member in the Association, as administrative jurisdiction has been installed in these countries only recently. Furthermore only partly contact could be installed with Bulgarian and Swiss colleagues.
Referring to the meeting of administrative judges in Beaulieu in March 2006, which was under the heading of implementation of EU law by administrative judges. Both the accessibility of the place of the meeting and the rates granted by the d’Aguesseau foundation contributed to reduce the cost of this event. The president laid stress on the fact that this time the meeting could partly be sponsored by the EU Taiex-programme, financing the participation of participants from the 10 new member states to the EU. These countries were well represented at the meeting.
Regarding the EU programme of exchange of judges the president shortly informed the general assembly that lately the European Commission is now willing to contract with the European Judicial Training Network, namely an association sitting in Brussels and comprising the national judges’ training institutions and is ready to accept the association to participate on its side as well. However, France, Greece and Slovenia indicate being ready to take part in this programme and the presiding president gave express to his regret that there is not enough interest in the national associations to make use of this programme.
Regarding the website, the presiding president reported that the French colleague Marc Clément, being in charge with the website of the association in cooperation with the President agreed to take care of the website also this year.
The vice-presidents expressed their deep gratitude for the profound and excellent work of the presiding president, Mr. Vincent.
By Vice-president Dr. Zens, it was furthermore stressed that questions of new accession was important and issues of EU grants must be given concentration in future work. Hence the visibility of the Association in Brussels must be strengthened which were a task to be fulfilled in cooperation with the national member associations. The meeting of administrative judges in Beaulieu was a perfectly organized forum to meet colleagues also from Eastern European countries, which are not yet member to the association.
The general assembly adopted the president's report by anonymous vote.
Report of the treasurer:
The treasurer, Dr. Ralf Höhne, gave his report and distributed a file of calculation for the year 2005. Thanks to reduced costs of the meeting in March 2006 (due to the location in Beaulieu and partly funding through the Taiex programme), the financial situation at the day of the general assembly meeting is satisfactory and will remain it for the year, on condition of course that all associations will pay in due course their annual contribution, which gives rise to a new recall of the treasurer with their intention. He also asked the national associations to inform him about the e-mail addresses of the respective national treasurers in charge.
The auditors, Mr. Bengt Almebäck and Mrs. Pirjopäivi Pihlanto, after examining the accounts, gave their reports, indicating that there was nothing to complain about. All the accounts are in good order. It was suggested to decide formally on the membership fees of new member states in their year of accession, as no formally binding general decision could be retrieved on this topic. This was also given mention by the Slovenian participant.
The general assembly decided unanimously to discharge the treasurer.
The Finnish Association of the Judges of the Supreme Courts as well as Finnish Association of Administrative Judges have given notice to withdraw from the Association.
The Finnish Association of Judges applied now for membership which was unanimously accepted by the general assembly (with the necessary forum of presence).
The presiding president pointed out the necessity of alterations of the statutes, at least partly due to the legal situation according to German law in order to become registered as an association in Trier. Other alterations became necessary for a better handling of preparation of the general assembly meetings and activities of the board as well as to create better visibility of assets of the association.
Statutes' alterations as proposed by the presiding president were discussed. New wording was approved unanimously as attached.
Afternoon session with Hungarian colleagues:
On friday afternoon the president of the supreme court, Dr. Lomnici, asked the participants to express their sympathy for our Turkish colleague Özbilgin, member of the Turkish Council of State, who had recently been assassinated. The participants held one minute of silence in honour of the murdered colleague. In his following speech president Lomnici pointed out the importance of contacts and legal cooperation between European judges and expressed his wishes for a success of the common session of the general assembly with our Hungarian colleagues. President Vincent expressed the gratitude of all participants of the general assembly to our Hungarian colleagues for the perfect organization as well as for their hospitality. Furthermore he gave a brief presentation of our association to the Hungarian participants. The common meeting was continued with two short presentations concerning data protection and following discussion.
Election of new board:
The general assembly empowered the board with unanimous vote to fix lower contributions for particular members.
The general assembly formally agrees to have another Vice-president, according to Art. 5 of the statutes.
Election of the board was another item of this year’s agenda of the general assembly of the Association. Dr. Zens, Dr. Heermann, Prof. Dr. Raikos, Mr. Schockweiler and Mrs. Segan were candidates.
The General Assembly voted by acclamation (unanimously) for the following new members of the board:
Dr. Heinrich Zens (Vienna, Austria), born 31st October 1957, as president of the association
Mrs. Jasna Segan (Lubljana, Slovenia), born 5 March 1961 , Mr. Carlo Schockweiler (Luxembourg, Luxemburg) born 8 May 1961, Prof. Dr. Dimitris Raikos (Patras, Greece) born 28 January 1959 and Dr. Werner Heermann (Würzburg, Germany) born 26 March 1945 as Vice presidents of the association.
Future work of the association:
The new presiding president, Dr. Heinrich Zens, emphasized the necessity to found working groups in the member States, working on different specific topics, important for general interest of the Association, as aliens' and immigration law, public procurement, taxation and a general group concentrating on independence and the functioning of the judiciary.
Deliberations were also held on the issue whether to link or dislink the meeting of administrative judges timely with the meeting of the general assembly of the Association.
Furthermore the president informed the participants that the answers given to the questionnaire launched by the former Vice president Erwin Ziermann as well as the summary report will be published on the website of the Association after the member States will have actualized their national reports.
The former president of the association, Mr. Pierre Vincent, agreed to attend also the next sessions of the Commissions of the European Council, when assisted by members of the board.
The general assembly unanimously agreed to reelect Mr. Bengt Almebäck as an auditor.Mrs. Pirjopäivi Pihlanto who resigned was replaced by Mrs. Laura Yilmaz (Finland) by unanimous decision.
The board nominated as treasurer Dr. Ralf Höhne (Germany) and as Secretary-General Dr. Edith Zeller (Austria).
Finally the board (in accordance with the empowerment given to it by the general assembly) decided that the membership fees shall be for 2005 for Hungary Euro 200, and for 2006 for Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia 200 Euro each.
Regarding the possible place of the next years meeting – in case it is not linked with the administrative judges meeting in Beaulieu – places in Italy, Germany or Austria were discussed.