The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice


Celebration of the 10th anniversary of the CEPEJ
Strasbourg, 6 December 2012, 9.00

Elements for the message by Mr John STACEY,
President of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice

Ms Deputy Secretary General,
Mr President of the European Court of Human Rights,
Mr President of the Ministers’ Delegates,
Mr Representative of the Parliamentary Assembly,
Mr Commissioner for Human Rights,
Dear CEPEJ colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Today is a great day for the CEPEJ! It is a particular pleasure and honour to close this opening session of our special plenary meeting, I would like to thank all eminent speakers for their kind words, their strong support and their political commitment for our 10 year old Commission. I am pleased to see in this very high level presence at our meeting a sign of appreciation for our work, but mainly a strong signal that justice issues are at the core of the Council of Europe’s mission, as there is no Rule of Law or democracy where the justice system does not function with independence, efficiency and quality.
The CEPEJ has tried to play its role during the last decade to promote these principals of an effective judicial system in our 47 member states. In ten years.
CEPEJ has participated in developing a new approach to justice within our Organisation, which must be seen in terms of public policies – that are unique due to the fundamental principle of the independence of the judiciary, but still aimed at the court user and the citizen, that promotes specific organisation and operation procedures for our justice systems.
I will not detail the pragmatic work which has been achieved by our Commission, as much has already been said and as details will be given in a few minutes by justice professionals themselves, who have experienced our tools in their day to day life: such practical experience has much more value than any theoretical speech.

    But I want to underline that these achievementsis the result of the joint work, and of many regular exchanges, between informed people from all over Europe, members and experts guided by high quality chairpersons of working groups, with the general support and encouragement of the bureau members and not forgetting the backing of a committed secretariat. CEPEJ is a success story because of everyone who has been involved with its development. And I would like to pay a particular tribute to my predecessors who have also led the CEPEJt:

        o Eberhard DESCH, who will take the floor later this afternoon, and who has been our pioneer, with innovative ideas, the sense of concrete and tangible results, while having a very solid knowledge of the Council of Europe and its main values and principles;
        o special thoughts go to our friend Fausto DE SANTIS, who has left us much too early; he was a very committed professional, fully involved, with his exceptional kindness, in developing the CEPEJ activity programme, in particular as regards the evaluation of judicial systems.

Thank you to all of you!
But my main intention is not to look back and congratulate ourselves for good results. As such results require us to move ahead. 10 years is a symbolic time, but the CEPEJ is still a young commission with a potential which has not yet been fully realised. Our member states do count on our further work, our new tools, our future guidelines to improve the efficiency and quality of justice for the sake of our fellow citizens.
To continue in direction, I would like to stress three essential elements:

        o the ownership of the CEPEJ’s tools by our member states, their governments, parliaments and justice professionals, must be strengthened; the quality of our interaction with our member states is topical, and this objective must be shared both by the CEPEJ members and our political leaders: we do have responsibilities in fostering such ownership in the member states, through our road shows, our court coaching programmes and the regular exchanges that all of us must have in our capitals and our courts; such ownership can also be developed through the support given to our work by the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary General, the European Court of Human Rights, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Human Rights Commissioner – I thank you in advance for this continuous support!
        o Our professionalism must remain a “trade mark” of the CEPEJ; the composition of our Commission and of its working groups is essential: we must continue to have a fine mix of judges, prosecutors, judicial administrators, civil servants and justice auxiliaries working together; this is mainly the responsibility of our member states when appointing their representatives;
        o the CEPEJ must be supported by our “political masters” both politically, but also through the provision of the necessary resource: we must have the proper investment to continue our work, in particular in terms of human resources; we are working for the efficiency of public policies, and we are then very responsible when it comes to proper management and public budgets. We are not asking for exceptional additional resources, only for the essential recruitment of a permanent statistician which would enable us to utilise and interpret more effectively the vast amount of data we now have and continue to collect. Member states will benefit and make use of this in-depth knowledge of the functioning of judicial systems; this proposal was supported in September by several ministers of justice in Vienna and by many delegations during my exchange of views with the Deputies on 7 October 2012; I trust that concrete actions will be taken in due time.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

The CEPEJ has still a long road ahead. I am convinced that CEPEJ, after having proved in 10 years its relevance and efficiency, can continue serving and safeguarding the development of the Rule of Law and thus, the Council of Europe’s core values. You can count on us!