Before giving the report the President stated that the necessary presence quorum of more than half of the member States is fulfilled.
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 since the last General Assembly had been held in Vienna in 2007. The board meetings had taken place in October 2007 in Thessaloniki and in Ljubljana in January/February 2008. These board meetings had been mainly dedicated to the preparation of the meetings of our Association for 2008.
Special mention was given to the several meetings which had taken place since 2007 of the different working groups:
The working group on asylum and immigration matters had held a meeting in Ljubljana in June 2007. This meeting had still been funded by TAIEX, which had still paid for several speakers from the “old” member States and for all participants from the “new” member States. In this context the President also informed that TAIEX would no longer grant such fundings, except for participants from or meetings in Bulgaria or Croatia. So in case a meeting would take place in these countries, funding could still be partly possible. Therefore our members from these two countries could be asked to host future meetings. The meeting of the working group on asylum and immigration matters in 2007 had been dedicated to issues of application of Dublin treaty and be organized by the two chairs, Mr Nedwed and Mr Zalar. Vice-President Jasna Segan had assisted with the organization of the meeting.
The working group had also given an opinion on the directive for illegally staying aliens.
The working group on environmental matters, chaired by Vice-President Werner Heermann, had already established contacts with the infringement unit concerning environmental law of the European Commission. The President reported that a meeting with the infringement unit had taken place in March 2008 in Brussels and that there seems to be a prosperous contact with representatives of the European Commission in this context. Main topic of this meeting had been issues of access to justice in the context of Aarhus Convention. In October 2008 a conference, organized by the European Commission will be held in Paris with respect to environmental law issues. Vice-President Werner Heermann is member of the Steering Committee preparing the conference. He would also present the statements of his working group in Brussels before participants invited by the European Commission in June 2008.
Finally the President noted positively that the members of this working group were very active, so good co-operation could already have been installed.
The working group on taxation law, chaired by Vice-President Jasna Segan, had held a meeting in Ljubljana in April 2008. This meeting had been organized in co-operation with the European Law Academy, being thus open for all professions. The Association of European Administrative Judges had activated several speakers, being member of the working group, as well as the Slovenian judge of the European Court of Justice. Other speakers were nominated by the European Law Academy that had also collected the revenues of this event. However, now contacts with the European Commission could be installed in this field of law as well. A meeting, hosted by the European Commission might take place in December 2008, dealing with taxation matters.
With respect to the existing working group on independence and efficiency, being presided by Vice- President Dimitris Raikos and Vice-President Carlo Schockweiler, the President reported that there had been a meeting in April 2008 in Beaulieu sur mer. Summarizing, he reminded that in 2007 at the Würzburg meeting, the present national situations had been analyzed and this year's meeting had taken place on the basis of the results of Würzburg; thus to suggest best practises and common minimum standards. At the meeting in Beaulieu sur mer, 4 different sub-groups had been installed, one dealing with salary issues (chaired by Vice-President Dimitris Raikos), the second one dealing with relations to the legislative power (chaired by Mrs. Annika Sandström), the third sub-group dealing with summary proceedings (chaired by Vice-President Carlo Schockweiler) and the fourth sub-group dealing with procedural issues (chaired by Mr Alexander Graf zu Pappenheim). Not all sub-groups had already finalized their opinions, only the second sub-group, the opinion of which could be adopted by the General Assembly during this session. The President warmly thanked also Mr Pierre Vincent, who had assisted to establish contacts with the owners of the residence so that the costs of residence could be kept on a low level.
Referring to the aim of registration of the Association of European Administrative Judges the President announced that it would be discussed under the item “Miscellaneous” at the end of the meeting.
In the context of matters of funding the President reported that our association has applied for funding in the framework of the European Commission's (General Directorate JFS) funding programme "Fundamental rights". However a decision has not been taken yet. In case funding would be granted by the European Commission, it could also be applied for the year 2009, noting that the percentage of funding by the European Commission would decrease yearly due to their regulations. In case funding would not be granted, it could be tried to organize meetings in Croatia or Bulgaria that might be supported by TAIEX.
The next issue noted by the President was the accession of new members. Hence he marked that in addition to three individual Croatian members, nine more individual Croatian judges had applied for membership. In addition, the Bulgarian Association of Administrative Judges as well as the Estonian Association of Administrative Judges and the Austrian Finance Academics Association, Branch Independent Finance Board (“Verein der Finanzakademiker, Referat Unabhängiger Finanzsenat”) had applied for membership.
The President further informed the General Assembly about contacts with representatives of Spanish Judge Associations and other Spanish judges he had in Madrid and about the specific situation in Spain concerning the possibility for judges resp. associations to join the Association of European Administrative Judges. For the time being individual Spanish judges have of course the possibility to apply for individual membership.
So far no national association had been established in Switzerland. In this context the Netherlands, being represented by the President of the Administrative High Court was warmly welcomed as an observer of the general assembly. Due to the nearly exclusive position of the Council of State in Belgium it had been difficult so far to establish contacts there, however, the President and Vice-President Carlo Schockweiler would meet members of the recently installed Belgian Independent Asylum Board in order to present the Association of European Administrative Judges. Furthermore, contacts had been established to Ukrainian colleagues, so in the course of a conference of the Council of Europe in Kiev in September, a meeting would be organized with Ukrainian colleagues.
Furthermore, the question of the website was touched. There were a new structure, all news were published there as well as all results of the working groups and meetings, contributions could be made. The colleague in charge of the website, Mr. Marc Clement, had also offered that national associations could present themselves and also publish problems on the website. Therefore the President invited the participants of the General Assembly to send contributions in order to be published on the website.
Switching to external matters the President firstly mentioned the contacts with the European Commission:
Promising contacts with members of Mr. Frattini's cabinet had been installed in 2007. However, due to a change of the Commissioners, it would be important to set up contacts with the new cabinet of the new Commissioner in charge of “Justice, freedom and security”.
Emphasis was given to an existing project of the European Commission, namely the Justice Forum for Civil Justice, where the Association of European Administrative Judges had been invited to participate and which would be launched on 30 May 2008 (with representation by Vice-President Jasna Segan). In addition, the President would participate at a meeting organized by the State Aid Institute in Brussels so that contacts might be installed with the European Commissioner for competition. Furthermore, contacts with theFundamental Rights Agency would hopefully be installed, as the Association of European Administrative Judges will send three members to an expert meeting in Malta, organized by the Fundamental Rights Agency.
Hence the President reported on the relation with the ERA, European Academy of Law, in Trier, where the association has its statutory seat, emphasizing the friendly contacts with this organization. The President had participated at the 15th anniversary of the European Academy of Law in September 2007. The Association of European Administrative Judges had co-operated with the European Academy of Law to organize the meeting of the working group on taxation law in Ljubljana in April 2008. At the meeting of the Board of Trustees, in which the Association of European Administrative Judges is member, Vice-President Carlo Schockweiler would represent and participate on behalf of the Association of European Administrative Judges. The President also emphasized the contacts which had been installed with the German IRZ-Foundation. Finally regarding the relations to theCouncil of Europe the President announced that information would be given by Mr Pierre Vincent.
Finally the President expressed his thanks to the board members as well as to the Secretary-General, the Treasurer and especially to all national members for their contribution to the work of the association.
Report of Vice-President Werner Heermann:
Presiding the working group on environmental law issues, the Vice-President reported he had a meeting with the GDENV in November 2007 in Brussels and six members of the working group had participated on their own costs at a seminar, organized by the Association of Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions and Councils of State in January 2008 in Brussels. The workshop of the working group had taken place on 14 March 2008 in Brussels, the resolutions of which had been published on the website of the Association of European Administrative Judges under the topic “Access to administrative justice in environmental matters”. He were in the Steering Committee of the European Commission, organizing now a conference on environmental matters in Paris for October 2008.
Finally he gave mention to the exchange programme EJTN, under the heading of which he had had the opportunity to be at Finnish Administrative Courts.
Finally he thanked the President for his excellent work.
Report of Vice-President Jasna Segan:
The Vice-President reported on the progress in the work with her working group on taxation law. So far, 16 members participate in the working group from 14 countries. She urged the participants of the General Assembly to nominate some more members, however, active participation would be required. A meeting of the working group had taken place on 24 and 25 April 2008 in Ljubljana, which she had organized in co-operation with the European Academy of Law under the topic “Tax litigation from the outset”. In the first part of which, being dedicated to judges, six members of the working group had participated as speaker, the results had been published on the website. She emphasized the importance to meet and get together. In this context, contacts with the European Commission had been installed so that there might be a co-operation with the European Commission to organize a meeting on direct taxation in Luxemburg in December 2008. Finally, she thanked the President for his excellent work.
Report of Vice-President Carlo Schockweiler:
The Vice-President mentioned the importance of independence, linked with efficiency. He had had a meeting with the cabinet of the European Commissioner Frattini in June 2007 as well as with the Secretary-General of the Association of Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions and Councils of State, Mr. Yves Kreins in order to present the Association of European Administrative Judges and to install mutual contacts as well as exchange of the respective programmes. He reported that he had represented the Association of European Administrative Judges in the Board of Trustees of the European Academy of Law in 2007 and now in 2008 and noted that co-operation with the European Law Academy could be intensified. He had as well launched contacts with Mr. Charbonnier, being in charge of the EJTN exchange programme as well as the IRZ-Foundation on the basis of contacts of the German colleague, Mr. Heydemann. On the basis of these contacts he would travel to a meeting in Kiev in order to establish contacts with Ukrainian colleagues. He had had contacts with Bulgarian colleagues so that they got introduced with the Association of European Administrative Judges. In June 2008 he would meet Belgian colleagues of the recently installed new jurisdiction. Furthermore he reported that the working group of Independence and Efficiency had held its meeting in Beaulieu sur mer, he had chaired the subgroup on summary proceedings in order to have best practises and common minimum standards.
Finally he thanked the board for the good co-operation and once again he stressed the importance of active participation of national associations and individual members.
Report of the Exclusive Correspondent with the Council of Europe Pierre Vincent
Before reporting on the activities within the Council of Europe the exclusive correspondent shortly noted that the association of members of the French Council of State had decided to join the Association of European Administrative Judges in July 2007, however due to internal reasons they had decided to suspend the official application for membership, probably for a year.
Furthermore, 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 (CDA and CDA-GT), as well as the Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ), noting that the group CDA had been cancelled by the Council of Europe due to lack of financial support, so the last work done by this working group had been a report on administrative appeals. He firmly expressed his regret about the cancellation of this working group, as they had dedicated their work to administrative legal matters.
The Association of European Administrative Judges were present at the meetings, being an observer as well as recently also in the European Committee on Migration (CDMG).
Report of the treasurer Ralf Höhne:
The treasurer gave his report and distributed a file of calculation for the year 2007, explaining receipts and expenses. He urged the participants that the membership fees should be paid in time, namely at the beginning of the year. Due to lack of money a full reimbursement of travel and accommodation costs at the meetings of the working groups would be impossible. Therefore for the year 2008 for the meeting of the working group in Brussels up to 300.- Euro had been reimbursed to participants and for the meeting in Ljubljana as well. For the meeting in Beaulieu sur mer up to 50.- Euro for travel costs and two nights for accommodation had been reimbursed.
The auditors, Mr. Bengt Almebäck and 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. Mention was only given to the fact that Slovakia had not paid its membership fees for the last years. They proposed to the General Assembly to discharge the treasurer.
The general assembly decided to discharge the board and the treasurer.
Election of new board:
The general assembly agreed unanimously to have four Vice-Presidents in all, 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, Mrs. Segan, Mrs. Sandström and Mr. Even were candidates.
The General Assembly voted by acclamation (unanimously) for the following new members of the board:
Dr. Heinrich Zens, Austrian Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Judenplatz 11, Vienna, Austria, born 31st October 1957, as President of the association
Mrs. Jasna Segan , Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia, Fajfarjeva 33, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, born 5 March 1961,
Dr. Werner Heermann, Bayerisches Verwaltungsgericht Würzburg, Burkadenstraße 26, D -97082 Würzburg, Germany (private address: Sudetenstraße 18a, 97340 Marktbreit, Germany), born 26 March 1945,
Mrs. Annika Sandström, Länsrätten i Stockholms län, 115 76 Stockholm, Sweden, born 13 December 1949
and Mr. Bernard Even, Tribunal administratif de Strasbourg, 31 Avenue de la Paix - BP 51038 - 67070 Strasbourg cédex, France, born 26 April 1958
as Vice Presidents of the association.
The auditors, Mr. Bengt Almebäck and Mrs. Laura Yilmaz, were unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly.
The board nominated Dr. Ralf Höhne as treasurer and Dr. Edith Zeller as Secretary-General.
Admissions of new members
Future Work of the Association
Referring to the still pending application for funding already mentioned in his report, the President noted that in case funding would be granted, a new working group on fundamental rights could be established, as this area of law is very important. In case funding would not be granted by the European Commission, less programmes could be fulfilled in the next year and funding by TAIEX would again be sought, in particular for meetings to be organized in Croatia or Bulgaria.
Generally, the participants of the General Assembly gave their thanks to the board. The idea to have a newsletter published on the website in order to promote the activities of the work of the Association of European Administrative Judges was warmly welcomed. The contact persons should distribute these to all members, after the board would have approved the text (France). The German delegate lay stress on possible co-operations with other international associations of judges, in the discussion of which it was confirmed that an improvement of relationship could be enhanced. Also co-operation with the Association of Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions and State Councils as well as with the Refugee Law Association could be further established as well as with ordinary judges associations. Co-operations could also be seen as a way of funding and for visibility with the Council of Europe. The Austrian delegate noted that the Association of European Administrative Judges had made a good investment to have the working groups installed and that the Association of European Administrative Judges should be a serious partner for the European Commission, an aim which should be further concentrated on. Also the aim to protect the rights of administrative judges was mentioned by the Estonian delegate, laying stress on questions of social guarantees. In the same context the Swedish delegate brought into remembrance the still prevailing problems with respect to salaries schemes, being an attack against independence. In this context it was also discussed that international assistance to fight this problem might be given by the Association of European Administrative Judges. Also the Slovenian situation with respect to their national salary system was explicitly given note. The Swedish delegate also noted that more visibility of the work within the Association of European Administrative Judges should be enhanced, thus the idea was discussed to invite specifically the Presidents of the national associations to the General Assembly for the 10th anniversary of the Association of European Administrative Judges in 2010. On behalf of the Luxemburg delegate emphasis was laid on the need of money, thus more pressure should be laid on the European Commission firstly and secondly on the national authorities (which would then be easier if Judiciary Councils would be installed). Mention was also given to the aim to have as much members as possible, related to membership with the Council of Europe. Remarks were also given that the website should be promoted.
The Vice-President Werner Heermann, being in contact with the registrar in Trier, where the Association of European Administrative Judges could be registered, pointed out the necessity of alterations of the statutes, due to the legal situation according to German law in order to become registered as an association in Trier.
Statutes' alterations as proposed by the presiding President were discussed. New wording was approved unanimously as attached.
Adoption of an opinion concerning relations between administrative jurisdiction and legislative power
This opinion prepared by the respective sub-group in the Meeting of Administrative Judges in Beaulieu was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly.