Before giving the report the President stated that the necessary presence quorum of more than half of the member States is fulfilled and he expressed his deep thanks to Mr Pedro Marchao Marques for having organized the meeting and General Assembly.
The President gave his report to the General Assembly, briefly pointing out the board activities since the last meeting of the General Assembly in Paris in 2011, which had been combined with an excellent conference.
Special mention was given to the several meetings, mainly of the different working groups, which had taken place since the last meeting of the General Assembly:
On 2nd and 3rd June, a workshop on environmental matters had been organized together with the Romanian NIM and EJTN in Bucharest. The asylum working group had met in the course of a conference of the asylum judges in Bled, Slovenia, in September 2011. There a change of the chairs of the working group had taken place, so that Bettina Maurer-Kober (Austria) and Holger Böhmann (Germany) were now co-chairs of this working group.
Furthermore, a meeting of the working group on Environmental Law in the context of a big conference, dealing with administrative justice in Europe, had taken place in Vilnius, Lithuania, which had been perfectly organized by the Lithuanian colleagues. The meeting of the working group on taxation law had taken place in Ljubljana on 29th and 30th September. New co-chairs had been fixed during this meeting, so that now Kaire Pikamäe (Estonia) and Aiste Medeliene (Lithuania) were co-chairs of this working group.
By the working group on Independence and Efficiency a seminar had been organized in co-operation with the Romanian NIM on public procurement matters, chaired by Annika Sandström and Bernard McCloskey on 6th and 7th October.
The president also informed the delegates about the new application for funding with the European Commission, Specific Programme on Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, for 2012, unfortunately no result had been known so far.
As the application had been for about 60.000.- Euro in case the funding were granted, the own, available means of about 20.000.- would need to be spent to conduct the applied programme. No additional payments of the member states would be necessary for this.
In April 2012AEAJ had contributed with 5 speakers for the conference, organized by the Austrian Association of members of the Independent Administrative Tribunals in April 2012 in Vienna on the occasion of the Austrian reforms in administrative justice. In case AEAJ would get funding, the Austrian Association would pay the necessary percentage of own means of AEAJ, in case no funding would be finally granted by the European Commission, the Austrian Association would pay all for the 5 speakers. The president noted the importance for Austria and success of this conference, giving his thanks to the Austrian colleague Königshofer.
Furthermore, on 26th and 27th April the working group on asylum and immigration matters held the regular meeting in Berlin, in which inter alia fruitful discussions had been held on issues of European Citizenship and Dublin II provisions. The president expressed his thanks to Holger Böhmann.
In co-operation with the Romanian NIM, on 3rd and 4th May a seminar on environmental matters had been organized on interim relief issues by the working group Environmental Law. Furthermore, on 24th and 25th May a seminar on access to justice issues had also been organized together with the Romanian NIM in Bucharest.
Regarding the upcoming events in autumn the working group meeting of the taxation working group would be held in Vienna in September, another seminar would be organized in co-operation with EJTN and NIM in Bucharest on asylum matters, the working group meeting of the environmental working group would be held in Rome on 4th and 5th October. Finally, the meeting of the working group on independence and efficiency would take place on 8th and 9th November in Palermo.
The president thanked all Vice-Presidents, also the chairs of the working groups, the Treasurer and the Secretary-General for their work. Special and warm thank was given to Vice-President Werner Heermann.
Report of Vice-President Annika Sandström:
The Vice-President thanked the President and mentioned the importance of independence, linked with efficiency, referring to the president’s report on the effectuated seminars. She noted that despite the lack of funding AEAJ had been able to organize quite a number of seminars and members had been able to participate. She gave mention to the meeting of the working group on independence and efficiency in Bucharest on public procurement matters and noted that the board of AEAJ had held two board meetings, one in the context of the meeting of the taxation working group on Ljubljana, on 30th September 2011 and another in the course of the meeting of the asylum and immigration working group in April 2012 in Berlin. She had also been speaker in the conference organized by the Austrian Association of Independent Administrative Tribunals in April in Vienna. Finally she gave mention to the still - and already reported before – on-going problems in Swedish administrative judiciary regarding salary methods. The board of the Swedish Association of Judges had made a study on effects of such beneficiary systems, the evaluation of which would be made soon.
Report of Vice-President Werner Heermann:
Chairing the working group Environmental Law, he reported on the updated number of members of the working group (30 members coming from 15 countries). He gave mention to the meeting of the working group in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 22 September 2011. The subject was “Interim relief in environmental matters”. Furthermore, he noted the workshop in Bucharest in Cooperation with the National Institute of Magistracy, which were organized on the topic of general rules on interim relief in administrative proceedings and case studies with an environmental background. The Vice-President also reported his representation (on his own means) of AEAJ on other conferences, i.e. the EUFJE (EU Forum of Judges for the Environment) conference on 14 – 15 October 2011 in Warsaw on Strategic Impact Assessment and a mission in Amman/Jordan (seminar on environmental law) on 20 – 21 March 2012, organized by the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ).
With support of IRZ he had attended also a conference on the Aarhus Convention in Almaty/Kazakhstan on 22-23 May 2012, organized by UNECE and OSCE. In the context of the EU programme “Support for Cooperation with National Judges in the Field of Environmental Law” conducted by EIPA (European Institute of Public Administration) 5 workshops of EIPA had been held since the last general assembly on issues in the context of environmental law, at which some members of the working group had participated. The Vice-President gave mention to the upcoming workshop in Rome, dealing with problems of mediation and amicable settlement before the court in environmental cases and the rights of the parties in the environmental lawsuit. He also stressed that the European Commission would now decide on the continuation of the project “Cooperation with national judges in the field of environmental law”. Both, ERA and EIPA would participate in the competition. As ERA had requested AEAJ to support its application at an earlier stage already, AEAJ agreed to do so. Therefore AEAJ will support ERA’s application.
Finally the Vice-President thanked all participants for their co-operation and declared to resign from this function, but is willing to continue chairing the working group on environmental law.
Report of Vice-President Bernard Even:
The Vice-President, as co-chair of the working group of Independence and Efficiency, firstly reported on the conference “Review of constitutionnality in Europe” on 19th May 2011 in Paris, which he had organized and the work for which would still continue, as the documents would soon be available in printed version, as he had received funding from the French Conseil d’Etat.
He had attended the workshop and conference in Vilnius in September 2011 as well as the board meeting in Ljubljana in September 2011 and the seminar in Bucharest in October 2011. The Vice-President gave also mention to several seminars organized by EIPA on waste management last year and a workshop organized by the British Society of Law for French participants on extradition and asylum questions in Belfast in November 2011, which he had attended. He had had the possibility to be one of the speakers at the seminar co-organized with NIM in Bucharest in May 2012 and would represent AEAJ soon at the meeting of the board of trustees of ERA in Trier. He also gave mention to the situation of the French Association of Administrative Judges, which had now a new and efficient working board, a member of which he were. Also the networking with AEAJ would be working very efficiently. He had a meeting with the Vice-President of the French Council of State and its Secretary-General, in the course of which the idea had been born to organize a joint meeting between AEAJ and ACA-Europe about relations between supreme courts and lower courts in Brussels in 2013.
In representation of Mr Pierre Vincent, special correspondent of AEAJ with the Council of Europe, he reported that funding at the Council of Europe were generally limited, e.g. the reports on administrative law had been cancelled already 3 years ago. Different meetings of the Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ) had taken place, in the course of which i.a. a new evaluation report on judges and judiciary systems had been deliberated. The report would be issued soon. The Council of Europe had increased its co-operation with the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), several studies had already been issued by the FRA. The European Court of Human Rights were more and more overloaded with files, as in 2011 65.000 applications had been made to it, which were an increase of 5 %. In 2001 only 13.000 applications had been filed. In 2011 1157 judgements on the merits had been made and 52.000 decisions all in all made.
Report of Vice-President Giovanni Tulumello:
The Vice-President informed the delegates about his active participation in different meetings, inter alia in the meeting of the working group of environmental law and about his preparatory work for the upcoming meeting in Palermo. He warmly welcomed also the president of the Italian Association of Administrative Judges. He noted the importance of judicial trainings, giving special mention to the fruitful co-operation with the Romanian NIM. Also such co-operations with universities could be useful.
Report of the chair of the working group on taxation law, Aiste Medeliene:
The chair reported on the last meeting of the working group in Ljubljana that had been very fruitful. Also good co-operation with ERA and NIM as well as EJTN was mentioned, so that 10 members of AEAJ could attend a seminar on taxation law, organized by ERA. The European Commission had organized a meeting on taxation matters on Cyprus as well. She gave special mention to the upcoming meeting of the working group in Vienna in September, in the course of which also a Professor of law would deliver a speech.
Report of the co-chair of the working group on asylum and immigration matters, Holger Böhmann:
He noted the last seminar, which had taken place in Berlin in April 2012, stressing that the chairs would now work on a strategic planning for the working group in order to give it a more specific profile. The importance of aliens’ law as such were constantly growing. Future co-operation might be possible with EASO (European Asylum and Support Office), however, so far trainings had been organized by EASO only for the administration. Therefore future trainings for judges might be the basis of cooperation.
The treasurer reported on the budget and the calculation for the year 2011, explaining receipts and expenses, distributed. 2011 AEAJ had not received funding from the EC, only the last part of payments for 2010 had been effected by EC and the pre-financing of the President could therefore be reimbursed. Membership fees for 2011 were paid, with some exceptions. The expenses of 2011 had been all within the decided financial limits and therefore for 2012 about 14.000.- Euro were available on own means.
The auditors, Ms Siiri Lewis and Ms. Marja-Liisa Judström, after examining the accounts, gave their reports, indicating that there would be no complaint. All the accounts were in good order, expressing the congratulations to the treasurer for his work. Regarding missing membership fees it was noted that the statutes provide the possibility of exclusion if continued.
The general assembly unanimously decided to discharge the board and the treasurer as well as the auditors.
The following individual members were unanimously admitted by the General Assembly:
The General Assembly unanimously decided to admit the following observers:
The General Assembly unanimously decided to cease by decision the membership of Mr Rik Kruisdijk, Netherlands on basis of his information to quit AEAJ as member as well as the French Association USMA.
The treasurer reminded that membership fees needed to be paid latest end of January for the actual year. Furthermore he noted that membership fees were so far fixed on the regular level, which would be 1.300.- Euro for the bigger countries, 200.- Euro for the smaller, former Eastern European countries. On the basis of a decision of the board and as already deliberated at the General Assembly 2011 before, he requested the General Assembly to increase the membership fees for Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia up to 350.- Euro per year in order to close the big gap.
The representative of Lituania opposed this proposal, as only a small increase would be accepted by the Lithuanian Association. Also the Slovenian representative argued that Slovenia could only pay up to 300.- Euro due to financial difficulties. Vice-President Even noted that financial difficulties might be a problem, especially in those cases, where there exists only one national Association together with civil and criminal judges. Therefore he would propose to increase the membership fees for those countries to 300.- per year from 2013 onwards.
The General Assembly adopted with majority the increase of membership fees of the above noted countries from 2013 onwards to 300.- Euro per year.
The Lithuanian opposed this decision, no abstention.
Regarding Article 2 of the Statutes:
Statutes' alterations as proposed were discussed; the reasons for the proposal were to allow active participation (within the limits of observers) of those administrative judges who were not member in a national judges association, which as such were member of AEAJ.
The new wording of Art. 2 para 4 last sentence as follows:
“Administrative Judges from countries where an association has already become member and individual academic lawyers, who are not administrative judges, may join the Association as observers without a right to vote.”
As well as in the German version:
“Verwaltungsrichter aus Ländern, die bereits durch eine Mitgliedsvereinigung vertreten sind und”
were adopted by the General Assembly unanimously.
Vice-President Werner Heermann had announced his resignation, therefore Mr Holger Böhmann had already been pre-elected by the General Assembly in 2011 for the period of 2012 to 2014 as Vice-President.
Ms Jasna Segan, chairing the elections, proposed to the General Assembly acc. to Art. 5 of the statutes that the board should be composed of a President and 4 Vice-Presidents. This proposal was unanimously accepted by the General Assembly.
Mr Heinrich Zens, Ms Annika Sandström, Mr Giovanni Tulumello and Mr Bernard Even were ready to be candidates. Other candidates were not proposed.
The General Assembly voted unanimously for the following new members of the board:
Dr. Heinrich Zens, Austrian Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Vienna, Austria, as President of the association
Mrs. Annika Sandström, Kammarrätten i Sundsvall, Sweden,
Mr. Bernard Even, Cour administrative d’appel de Paris, France,
And Mr Giovanni Tulumello, Tribunale amministrativo Regionale della Sicilia, Italy,
as Vice Presidents of the association.
The General Assembly unanimously re-elected the auditors, Ms Marja-Liisa Judström (Finland) and Ms Siiri Lewis (Sweden).
The board nominated Dr. Ralf Höhne as treasurer and Dr. Edith Zeller as Secretary-General.
The Dutch participant, president of the Administrative High Court of the Netherlands, Mr Theo Simons, invited the members of AEAJ to hold the next General Assembly on 24th of May 2013 in Utrecht, combined with a seminar (also open for other participants).
The German participant, chair of the German BDVR-association, Mr Christoph Heydemann, invited the participants, as already deliberated in the last board meeting in April, to hold an English workshop in the course of the next German Verwaltungsgerichtstag in Münster, 5th to 7th June 2013 on the topic “Judicial ethics”.
The Lithuanian participant, Ms Aiste Medeliene, noted that the meeting of the taxation working group in 2013 might take place on 9th to 10th May 2013 in the course of a tax conference in Vilnius on tax avoidance issues. Another possibility would be to hold the working group meeting elsewhere and just to send speakers to the meeting in Vilnius.
Vice-President Bernard Even referred to his former report about a possible joint conference of AEAJ with ACA-Europe.
The Croatian participants noted that they might be able to host a meeting of a working group in 2013 as well.
As no further remarks were made, the President closed the conference, thanking all participants for their active participation.