The 3rd EJSF plenary took place on 6 November 2018. Hosted once again by Arno Metzler, President Group III (Diversity Group) in the EESC, this year’s discussion was on ‘Upholding the EU values in Article 2 TEU – What are they? Why are they important? How can he EU justice sector protect and communicate them to EU citizens?’

Keynote speakers were Vice President of the European Parliament, MEP Heidi HAUTALA and Commission Director of fundamental rights and the rule of law, Emmanuel CRABIT. The high level panel discussion, which included Gabriel TOGGENBURG, Director EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Vienna and Monique VAN DER GOES, European Networks of Councils of the Judiciary, was moderated by Eric DELTOUR, senior partner at Decherts law firm. See here for the full programme.

The EU values including democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are under threat in Europe and globally. Fuelled by rising populism and protectionism, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and free and fair elections are being challenged.

An open exchange by speakers and participants including legal practitioners, civil society, corporate counsel and EU officials emphasised the importance of legal training so that EU lawyers in all the Member States understood the EU values and could thus better communicate them to EU citizens.

Education about the EU values in schools across Europe is key. Better communication in general of the EU values. Lawyers and the justice professions have a key role to play in this. Concrete initiatives by the EU institutions including Article 7 procedures against Poland and Hungary are welcome but more is needed. Lawyers need to speak out. They must stand up, be seen and make others aware of rule of law issues because these are undermining democratic trust in Europe.

For more information, please contact the secretariat here.