The presiding president gave his report to the general assembly, briefly pointing out the board activities.
Firstly, referring to internal matters, the President reported that two board meetings had taken place, in September 2006 in Vienna as well as in January 2007 in Luxembourg. These board meetings were dedicated to the preparation of the general assembly as well as of the conference in Würzburg, which had taken place in April 2007. Mention was given to the fact that since last year working groups on environmental issues, taxation law, independence and efficiency as well as asylum had been set up.
With respect to the existing working group on independence and efficiency, being presided by Vice- President Mr Raikos and Vice-President Mr Schockweiler, the President announced that the answers given to the questionnaire (sent out in preparation for the conference in Würzburg) will be published as well as the summary reports of each speaker at the conference. The conference on independence and efficiency had been funded to a large extent by TAIEX, therefore the contributions from the European Association of Administrative Judges could be held moderate. The topic, namely “independence and efficiency”, being very broad, gave thus the possibility to collect information and to clarify some specific items of various national systems at the conference. A future aim will be the elaboration of standards for systems of jurisdiction regarding topics of efficiency and independence. However, the President laid stress on the point that an open discussion would be necessary to achieve this aim, so that finally common minimum standards could be elaborated.
Referring to the aim of registration of the European Association of Administrative Judges the President reported that the process is not yet finalized, emphasizing that the registration should take place within the next year.
The next issue noted by the President was the accession of new members. Hence he marked that three individual Croatian members, two of these being present at the General Assembly, had applied for membership. Furthermore, one application of one Spanish Administrative Judge as well as an application of the highest Maltese judge had been filed. Contacts to Portuguese judges could be strengthened, and a “co-operation” with the European Association of Administrative Judges would be desired by the newly founded Portuguese Association of Administrative Judges. The President also reported of his personal contacts with Estonian, Romanian and Dutch Administrative Judges. In this context Switzerland, being represented by the President of the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, was warmly welcomed as an observer of the general assembly.
Furthermore the President expressed his gratitude to Vice-President Mr Schockweiler for the efforts taken in order to draft a questionnaire regarding the expectations of members. This questionnaire had recently been sent to the member associations, hoping to receive answers until the end of June 2007. Generally an active participation in the working groups would be needed and more meetings of working groups would be an aim.
Switching to external matters of the European Association of Administrative Judges the president firstly mentioned the contacts to the European Court of Justice. He reported that the board could meet the President of the Court of Justice during its board meeting in January 2007, wherein the President of the Court of Justice had agreed to support the European Association of Administrative Judges with respect to some judicial trainings.
Furthermore, mention was given to the contacts with the European Commission:
The contacts with Mr. Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for the Directorate General “Justice, freedom and security”, would still prevail.
Emphasis was given to two existing projects of the European Commission, namely the Evaluation concerning the implementation of Policies of the European Union in context of Judiciary (which was – especially concerning the inclusion of administrative justice - discussed during a meeting in Brussels last autumn where the president took part) and the Judicial Training Programme. The EJTN, partly charged with this programme, being an association of institutions, dealing with judicial training or administration of justice on national level. However, it was pointed out that the European Association of Administrative Judges has no official status in the EJTN, but nevertheless the efforts to achieve a participation of administrative judges in the exchange programme were successful. Possible future steps could be thought through, which might be either a membership in the EJTN, being costly, or to achieve an observer status.
Hence the President reported on the relation with the ERA, European Academy of Law in Trier, where the association has a statutory seat, emphasizing the excellent contacts with this organization. He noted that the representative of ERA, Mr Heusel, had offered co-operation with the European Association of Administrative Judges with respect to different programmes. Possible future opportunities might be the organization of common seminars, which could be funded up to 80% by the European Union.
Regarding financial matters the President gave notice that the TAIEX funding programme of the European Commission would expire by 2008, however, the funding of the meeting of the asylum working group in Ljubljana in June 2007 would still be largely covered by TAIEX.
Furthermore the President shortly mentioned the organization of VERDIF-meetings, being very interesting, because participants could actively work on different practical cases, noting that this could also be an interesting idea for the activities of working groups within the European Association of Administrative Judges.
The President also mentioned a meeting in Venice, organized by the Union of European Advocates, dealing with efficiency of justice. He participated there and positioned the important link between efficiency and independence.
Regarding the Council of Europe the President noted that the European Association of Administrative Judges was represented by our Italian colleagues in two meetings in Rome (organized by the CEPEJ respectively by the CCEJ). More specific information was furthermore given by Mr Vincent.
Finally the President expressed his thanks to the board members.
Hereinafter, Mrs Perna, took the floor and explained in more detail the programme of the meetings of the Council of Europe in Rome, where she had participated representing of the European Association of Administrative Judges.
Report of Vice-President Mr Heermann:
Presiding the working group on environmental law issues, the Vice-President reported that this working group consisted of 8 members coming from 6 countries. As a first step the exchange of information via e-mail has been enhanced by him, stressing the point that personal contact and active participation would be important. Thus a workshop would be organized for his working group in 2008 in Brussels. He noted as well that, apart from the organization of the meeting in Würzburg in April 2007, he had travelled to the meeting of environmental judges in Helsinki in 2006 as representative of the European Association of Administrative Judges.
Report of Vice-President Mr Raikos:
Noting that report had already been given on the working group independence and efficiency, he underlined that the working groups should propose solutions to the European Union in respective fields of law in the future. The exchange of ideas as well as the exchange of know-how with respect to the different case law would be most important. The Vice-President furthermore expressed also the importance of independence of judges, remarking that the working group will continue its efforts.
Report of Vice-President Mr Schockweiler:
The Vice-President mentioned the importance of independence, linked with efficiency and announced to continue with this work.
Referring to the questionnaire on expectations of the members, he firmly asked for active participation of the members; as this questionnaire should give inputs to the board which kind of subjects should be dealt preponderantly in its future work.
He also pointed out that funding possibilities would have to be found and in this context, a meeting with the office of Mr Frattini could be of help. Once again he stressed the importance of active participation of national associations and individual members.
Report of Vice-President Mrs Segan:
The Vice-President reported on the progress in the work with her working group on taxation law. So far, a topic would be selected for a meeting of the working group which would take place in spring 2008 in Ljubljana. She also noted that the asylum working group would have a meeting 27-28 June 2007 in Ljubljana.
Report of the Exclusive Correspondent with the Council of Europe
The exclusive correspondent stressed the importance of co-operation with the Council of Europe and reported on its activities with respect to administrative law. Among others he noted the meetings of the legal Committee of administrative law and of its working-party (CJDA and CJDA-GT), as well as the Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ).
The European Association of Administrative Judges were present at the meetings, being an observer. Relevant topics had been devoted to the definition of minimum rules of good administration, initiatives to strengthen the efficiency of justice (including the length of proceedings) as well as enforcement of judicial decisions.
Report of a chairperson of the working group on asylum law, Mr Nedwed
The chairman reported that 15 judges coming from 12 countries were member of the working group. One aim would be a closer co-operation in these fields of law and participation in the European law making process. For the time being two main issues would be covered by the working group, namely on the one hand to draft comments on the EU directive for returning illegally third country nationals and on the other hand the preparation of the workshop in Ljubljana, in June 2007.
Report of the treasurer:
The treasurer, Dr. Ralf Höhne, gave his report and distributed a file of calculation for the year 2006. Thanks to the fact of 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. In this context, the treasurer mentions that one national organization has not paid membership fees from 2005 onwards.
The auditor, Mr. Bengt Almebäck (in co-operation with Mrs. Laura Yilmaz), after examining the accounts, gave their reports, indicating that there was nothing to complain about. All the accounts are in good order.
The general assembly decided unanimously to discharge the treasurer.
Three Croatian judges, namely
Future Work of the Association
Generally, the work and the idea of working groups was warmly welcomed and it was marked that internal meetings and exchange of information would be important issues. However, parallel programmes with other organizations should be avoided (Hungary). Whereas some representatives (Germany) stressed that these contacts between colleagues were the most important issue, others found it necessary that the external visibility of the Association of European Administrative Judges must be enhanced (Italy, France, Latvia). Specifically the web-site should be enhanced, in order to improve the immediate visibility of the work-progress, in particular concerning the elaboration of opinions on legal projects of the EU (France). Also the results of meetings should be published as soon as possible. Various representatives stressed on the fact that the future work should serve the national associations as a representation towards the European institutions or associations (Austria, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland). Emphasize was given to the necessity of improving the Association’s contacts with the Association of Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions (France).