The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice


11th Edition of the European Day of Justice,

Luxembourg, 25 October 2013

Elements for the opening speech by Ms Hanne JUNCHER
Head of the Justice and legal co-operation Department
Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law
Council or Europe

Dear Vice-President of the European Commission,

Dear Minister,

Mr Mayor of the City of Luxembourg,

Mr President of the Council of the Notariats of the European Union and the Chamber of Notaries of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,

Dear participants,

I am very pleased and honoured to be here today to open the celebration of the 11th edition of the European Day of Justice here in Luxembourg, on behalf of the Council of Europe and in the presence of such eminent and committed representatives from the field of justice.

The Council of Europe welcomes the initiative of the Council of the Notariats of the European Union and the Chamber of Notaries of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to hold today’s event, and I would like to express our particular thanks to Mr Molitor for his commitment.

This occasion is an excellent opportunity to recall the fruitful co-operation between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of justice. Together, throughout Europe and beyond, important results have been achieved over the last few years. Both our institutions share the same values and principles as regards strengthening independent and efficient judicial systems that provide good quality judicial services. Thanks to our close cooperation, we have been able to convey this message to our partners jointly and consistently, and this has certainly helped reinforce its impact.

Independent and efficient judicial systems are essential in fostering mutual trust between European judiciaries, and in developing a true common judicial area that contributes to the development of the rule of law.

In this context, I am delighted that we are able to celebrate this European Day of Justice in Luxembourg, a place we know for its strong European and international spirit.

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Traditionally, on the occasion of the European Day of Justice, the Prize known as the Crystal Scales is awarded. That is not the case this year, but I would like to confirm our hope it will go ahead again next year. The Crystal Scales Prize is intended to highlight and reward innovative measures conceived and implemented by justice professionals.
It is important to share new, innovative and effective initiatives to improve the functioning of judicial systems. I would invite you to visit the Council of Europe information stand outside this room where we have a video presentation of the four initiatives that were selected as winners in 2012.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Notaries participate in the chain of justice and they are key players in the functioning of judicial procedures. They are guarantors of legal security and have an important contribution to make as regards the limitation of litigation between parties. In this function, they are major actors of preventive justice. It is from this perspective that the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, the CEPEJ, has addressed the profession, although we are well aware that notaries, depending on the state or entity, may also intervene in other fields than those related strictly to efficiency and quality of justice.

The CEPEJ has devoted a chapter in its bi-annual report evaluating the day-to-day functioning of judicial systems to the situation of notaries in Europe. Some of the findings will be presented to you this afternoon, and they can also be found in the extract available at the entrance to the Conference room.

We believe that this chapter of the CEPEJ evaluation report can be strengthened in the forthcoming evaluation cycle. The Council of the Notariats of the European Union has recently been granted observer status with the CEPEJ, and this positive development means they will be able to work in close cooperation with our Commission to define the role of notaries within the judicial systems, and to comment on the evolution of the profession. We look forward to this collaboration, and I take this opportunity to extend to you a warm welcome to the CEPEJ family.

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Today’s event is an excellent initiative which we believe will inspire further international reflection in the field of justice. Actions aimed at promoting and improving efficiency and quality of justice in Europe can only be a positive thing. They offer us the possibility to share experiences and good practices, as well as bad practices and lessons learnt through painful trial and error - and it is those types of actions that allow us to make progress

Let me conclude these brief opening remarks by transmitting the good wishes of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Thorbjorn Jagland. He regrets that he was not able to join us today, but I would invite you to watch the video message he has prepared for us.

I wish us all a happy European Day of Justice.

Thank you.