The Joint European Union and the Council of Europe regional project on strengthening the profession of lawyer in line with European standards in the Eastern Partnership countries held its final event on 27 February 2023 both remotely and in person in Strasbourg, France.
The event which gathered representatives of the participating countries – Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, served as a forum to take stock of the achievements with focus on the work done in enhancing co-operation between the bar associations and law societies of the participating countries and improving the internal functioning and independence of the bar.
Over the course of the project, the Council of Europe worked closely with the Ministries of Justice, Bar Associations, Free legal aid institutions and professional unions of lawyers to promote better alignment of the national practices with the European standards on the legal profession.
In her opening remarks, Lilja Gretarsdottir, Head of Co-operation Programmes Division (DGI), emphasised the importance of extensive cross country-reviews which the project developed on vital topics such as the interaction of judges and lawyers in courts, internal structure of bar associations, procedural safeguards, and protection against undue interferences for lawyers, systems of legal representations, including free legal aid. Ms Gretarsdottir reiterated that the project greatly facilitated the interaction of the bars and professional associations of lawyers from participating countries through numerous regional events and activities.
During the conference, participants discussed the prospects of the new Council of Europe legal instrument on the profession of lawyers, shared best practices, discussed challenges and opportunities, and highlighted the impact of the project.
During the closing remarks, Lilit Daneghian-Bossler, Deputy Head of the Co-operation Programmes Division (DGI), underlined that enhancing the capacity of the profession of lawyer will remain among the priorities of the Council of Europe and that the Organisation will explore ways of future co-operation on regional and national levels.