17 JANUARY 2017, BELVUE MUSEUM, BRUSSELS
“I hope that the Academy continues its impressive rhythm of work”
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, attended the jubilee reception of the Academy of European Law (ERA) in Brussels on 19 January 2017. Jacques Santer, President of the ERA Governing Board and former President of the European Commission, opened ERA’s 25th anniversary celebrations in the BELvue Museum in the company of more than 300 attendees from the European legal community. Alongside many judges from the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, there were representatives of the other EU institutions, the private sector and partner organisations from across Europe.
Wolfgang Heusel, Director of the Academy, referred briefly to the history of ERA. In the course of its first 25 years, more than 125,000 European lawyers have participated in more than 2200 ERA events in Trier and across Europe. In this framework, they made contacts and friends across national and professional borders and contributed to building and shaping a veritable European community of lawyers. Dr Heusel paid tribute to the progress made in European integration and enlargement since 1992: “If ERA is proud to celebrate its silver jubilee in 2017, it does so, because we feel that we too have our share in these achievements of today”, he said. “There is no reason to succumb to the current defeatist tendencies. Because when looking back, the vibrant mood of the Single Market era was only the follow-up to a similarly dull, weary and depressing phase in the late 70s and early 80s known as Eurosclerosis. As the challenges and crises of today are of a different nature, the response will certainly have to be different”, said Dr Heusel: “There will be an adequate response, there will be appropriate solutions, and we will strive together […] to identify and to implement them.”
Mr Juncker congratulated ERA on its silver jubilee and said that the Academy has been invaluable in developing, understanding and applying European law across the Union. “The European Union is at its heart a Community of Law — eine Rechtsgemeinschaft”, he said. “And legal certainty — many politicians worldwide are forgetting this — is still the most important pre-condition for investment in our economies. But more importantly than all of that: our justice system is the guarantor of our democracy and of our fundamental rights”, the President of the Commission stated in his keynote speech.
Mr Juncker stressed that the rule of law cannot be taken for granted and that it has to be defended and improved by all Europeans, which is true today even more than it ever had been.
“European law needs to be applied thoroughly and consistently and consequently across all the Member States. And that is where the work of the Academy is so important”, President Juncker pointed out. “Whether it be judges, prosecutors, court staff, or even probation officers, we need effective cross-border training for all of our legal professionals”, said Mr Juncker. “Your work helps to improve our collective understanding and implementation of European law and it helps build mutual trust between national legal systems.”