Background and mission
The Council of Europe attaches great importance to the status of judges and the quality of the justice system because of the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms – which are key values for the Organisation – depend for their implementation on a strong and independent judiciary. The CCJE may be requested by member States to look into specific problems concerning the status and/or the situation of judges. It addresses topical issues and, if necessary, visits the countries concerned to discuss the ways of improving the existing situation through developing legislation, institutional framework and/or judicial practice.
In this context, the Council of Europe is concerned both with strengthening the judiciary in its member States, with the aim of ensuring mutual respect between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, and to give European citizens increased confidence in the justice system.
It was in the light of these two objectives that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe set up the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) in 2000.
The CCJE, consultative body concerning independence, impartiality and competence of judges, highlights the essential role of the judicial power in a democratic society. The CCJE is the first body in an international organisation composed exclusively of judges and constitutes therefore a unique body at the European level.
In accordance with the pilot survey of intergovernmental steering and ad hoc committees (document GT-REF.INST(2009)1 final), CCJE opinions have been useful for the purposes of drafting national regulations and legislation, are often used as tools for the functioning and/or administration of justice and for the organisation of the work of the legal professions and are useful for national professionals and in particular for judges and judicial service commissions, in view of the fact that CCJE opinions contain concrete specifications concerning the implementation of general standards (independence of judges, training of judges, ethics, quality of decisions, etc.)
On 20 November 2009, the Fundation Justice in the World (under the patronage of the International Association of Judges) awarded the CCJE with the Prize "Justice in the World" for the excellent quality of its work and the commitment of its members.
All member States may be represented. Members should be chosen in contact, where such authorities exist, with the national authorities responsible for ensuring the independence and impartiality of judges and with the national administration responsible for managing the judiciary, from among serving judges having a thorough knowledge of questions relating to the functioning of the judicial system combined with utmost personal integrity.
The General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union is also invited to participate in the activities of the CCJE.
The following may send a representative without the right to vote and at the charge of their corresponding administrative budgets:
- European Court of Human Rights;
- Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE);
- European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ);
- European Committee of Legal Co-operation (CDCJ);
- European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC);
- other Committees or bodies of the Council of Europe engaged in related work, as appropriate.
The following may send a representative without the right to vote and without defrayal of expenses:
- European Union;
- Observer States to the Council of Europe: Canada, Holy See, Japan, Mexico, United States of America.
- Observer State to the CCJE: Kazakhstan.
The following observers to the CCJE may send a representative to attend the CCJE meetings:
- the European Association of Judges (EAJ);
- the association "Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés" (MEDEL);
- the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ;
- the European Association of Judges for Mediation (GEMME);
- the European Judicial Training Network (ENJT);
- the European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ);
- the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).
The right to an independent and impartial court was laid down clearly in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The work of the CCJE is set in the context of the implementation of this right, with the aim of strengthening the rule of law and the effective protection of human rights in democratic States.
- Extract from the terms of reference of the CCJE for 2022-2025 :
Under the authority of the Committee of Ministers, the CCJE, as a consultative body composed exclusively of serving judges (unique in this way at European level), representing a direct and privileged interlocutor of judges in member States, is tasked with fostering the independence, impartiality and competence of judges through the elaboration of standards and guidance as regards the status and career of judges and effective exercise of the judicial profession, bearing in mind the Council of Europe’s standards, notably Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the findings and recommendations of the relevant monitoring mechanisms.
In particular, the CCJE is instructed to:
- ensure the follow-up of the relevant decisions taken at the 131st Session of the Committee of Ministers (Hamburg, 21 May 2021), and in particular contribute to the implementation of the key strategic priorities relating to its specific field of expertise as identified in the Strategic Framework of the Council of Europe, and respond to the respective key findings and challenges set out in the Secretary General’s 2021 Report on the state of democracy, human rights and rule of law “A democratic renewal for Europe”;
- contribute to the overall preservation and further promotion of relevant European standards related to the rule of law, including in emergency situations, and in particular as regards the independence, impartiality and competence of judges, as well as their status, career and effective exercise of judicial profession by elaborating opinions and other texts, promoting targeted co-operation and regular exchanges of knowledge, good practices and experiences on issues of common interest at pan-European level;
- advise the Committee of Ministers on issues regarding the independence, impartiality and competence of judges, as well as their status, career and effective exercise of judicial profession and prepare and adopt opinions for the attention of the Committee of Ministers on these issues, taking into consideration existing legal and other policy instruments, the reports of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe and the evolving case law of the European Court of Human Rights;
- hold regular exchanges and contribute to national and international events, highlighting and promoting the implementation of Council of Europe standards, CCJE opinions and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, and encouraging partnerships in the judicial field involving courts, judges and judges’ associations;
- promote and follow the implementation of the standards that it has prepared, and where appropriate, contribute to reviews of the implementation of relevant Committee of Ministers’ recommendations;
- hold an exchange of views annually in order to evaluate its activities and advise the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General on future priorities in its sector, including possible new activities and those that might be discontinued;
- take due account of the following mainstreamed perspectives in the performance of its tasks: gender, youth, children’s rights, rights of persons with disabilities, and Roma and Traveller issues;
- where relevant, contribute to building cohesive societies and to strengthening the role and meaningful participation of civil society in its work;
- contribute to the achievement of, and review progress towards, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular with regards to Goal 5: Gender Equality and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong institutions.
Rules and Procedures
Conferences and other events
- Presentation the CCJE’s work before the Committee of Ministers
10 February 2021
Speech of Ms Nina Betetto
- Webinar “The judiciary: possible ways of development”
18 January 2021
organised by the Association of Polish Judges IUSTITIA, as well as by the EAJ, MEDEL and AEAJ
Speech of Ms Nina Betetto
- Online Conference of Ministers of Justice: "Independence of Justice and the Rule of Law"
9 November 2020