The unexplored potential of judicial dialogue methodology
The project "European Judicial Cooperation in the fundamental rights practice of national courts" was a project supported by the European Commission DG Justice (contract n. JUST/2012/FRAC/AG/2755) and lasted from January 1st, 2013 until June 30th, 2014
The Project included one academic institution - European University Institute (EUI) - and 7 judicial organizations: 6 national (Croatia, Italy, 2 organisations from Poland, 2 organisations from Romania, and Spain) and one European (the Association of European Administrative Judges).
The Project predominant focus was judicial dialogue and cooperation - in this respect fundamental rights are the context in which judicial dialogue takes place. The Project builded on the conviction that collaboration and contact between the legal professions of the Member States and the European Union are indispensable in the field of fundamental rights adjudication; all the more, given the multi-level system of fundamental rights protection consolidated by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Project aimed to trigger a process of cross-state and cross-discipline mutual learning on judicial cooperation. Efforts need to go beyond the mere exchange of information through conferences in search of more effective ways to foster judicial dialogue in practice. Thus, during the project, judges from different MS indeed practiced judicial dialogue; they engaged in exploring its potential together with academics for teh purpose of improving fundamental rights adjudication in a multi-level setting where provisions of international, EU, ECHR and national law interact.
The objective of the project is to promote and develop the dialogue existing between the European judges by exploring concrete dimensions of judicial cooperation in the area of selected EU fundamental rights, namely principle of non-discrimination, freedom of expression and fair trial. We will create small epistemic communities composed of judges, scholars and practitioners and discuss current and past cases that have created conflicting interpretations. This objective, in fact, consists of identifying the judicial dialogue techniques as well as demonstrating their usefulness in practical contexts of case law developed by other courts focusing on particular fundamental right. We would like to enable national judges to use the widest possible toolkit to engage into judicial cooperation with other Courts while addressing issues concerning implementation of fundamental rights.
The Project will have three phases.
Firstly, the research team and project partners will select those cases where the adjudication of certain fundamental rights gave rise to divergent or conflicting interpretations within the national judicatures of the project partnersand, if need be, devise hypothetical case-studies for the three substantial workshops. The fundamental rights that will be the subject of the three first workshops will be selected in cooperation with the partner institutions based on a thorough research and analysis of the CJEU and ECtHR case law, as well as the national case law.
Secondly, we will focus on the use of judicial dialogue, in its vertical and horizontal dimensions between national and European courts. The case law, besides providing up-to-date information on fundamental rights protection, will reveal the benefits of dialogue techniques developed at the European level for the purpose of promoting both fundamental rights compliance and threads of interpretations across member states.
In the second phase, three workshops, gathering academics and judges from the Project partner member states, will be organised in the format of a laboratory of judicial cooperation and a forum for mutual learning.
Ultimately, in phase three, the toolkit, including Judicial Dialogue Guidelines will be finalised and presented in a final conference; the findings will be disseminated and tested by co-beneficiaries, partners and external experts.