Around half of Europe’s 1.4m legal professionals should receive training in European law and other member states’ legal systems by 2020, the European Commission has said.
It has set an additional target of ensuring that all practitioners have at least one week’s training in EU law during their careers.
The 2020 goal is aimed at equipping lawyers to apply European law. It said the initiative will also “help to build mutual trust between Europe’s different legal systems and improve the implementation of European legislation”.
EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said citizens and businesses want to know that they can count on a “knowledgeable and well-trained” legal profession across the EU enabling them to exercise their rights and get justice.
“But judges and lawyers delivering such justice need to know the rules to be able to apply them effectively. That’s why I want to set a clear and ambitious target for expanding training in how the judiciaries [EU-speak for the entire legal profession] in Europe apply European law.
“This will help cement our efforts to create an EU-wide area of justice, improving the way the internal market operates. Judicial training is central to a modern and well-functioning judiciary capable of reducing the higher risks and higher transactions costs that impede economic growth. European judicial training is therefore a much needed investment to develop justice for growth.”
Issuing a formal communication , the commission has called on national governments, councils for the judiciary, professional bodies and judicial training institutions both at EU and national level to commit to integrating EU law into their training programmes and to increasing the volume of courses and participants. The communication defines legal professionals as judges, prosecutors, lawyers, court staff, bailiffs and notaries.
The commission itself intends to facilitate access to EU funding to support high-quality training projects, including e-learning, which should train more than 20,000 legal practitioners a year.
It is also launching a two-week exchange programme for new judges and prosecutors from 2014 onwards. The commission will support training through the European e-Justice Portal  – the EU’s one-stop shop for laws and access to justice in all EU countries – and by sharing practical guidelines on training methodologies and evaluation.
The commission will also encourage public-private partnerships to develop innovative training solutions, building on the work of all existing training providers, while it will next year present a communication on the development of a European training scheme for law enforcements officials.