Romania's Justice Minister Ana Birchall attended an informal meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) in Helsinki, July 18-19, where she pointed out that over the recent years Romania has paid increased attention to alternatives to detention measures that can be "viable solutions for the development of judicial co-operation in criminal matters."
According to a press statement released by the Ministry of Justice on Friday, the informal meeting, the first to be organised by the Finnish presidency of the Council of the EU discussed strengthening the rule of law; independence, quality and efficiency of national justice systems and the importance of fair trial, as well as detention and alternatives to it in the context of judicial co-operation in criminal matters.
"I would first like to welcome the fact that in the field of judicial co-operation in criminal matters, the Finnish presidency will continue the discussions initiated by the Romanian presidency, on the way forward in this matter. In this respect, the debate is fully complementary to the issues addressed in the previous six months of the year and reflected in the report presented by the Romanian presidency to the JHA Council meeting of June 6, 2019," Birchall is quoted as saying.
At the debate on the future of justice and the strengthening of the rule of law at the JHA meeting, Birchall underscored the need to continue exploring avenues to further consolidate the JHA area taking into account the expectations of European citizens as well as the challenges to the contemporary European construction.
"In the session devoted to detention and alternatives to it, Birchall underscored that Romania has been paying increasingly more attention to alternatives to detention measures in recent years, which can be viable solutions for the development of judicial co-operation in criminal matters. She emphasised that practitioners must be prepared for a structural change in the application and individualisation of punishments, with the role of judicial training, including the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) being particularly important. Equally important is the role of Eurojust and the European Judicial Network in criminal matters, through assistance to national authorities," according to the press statement.
Birchall also pointed out that the EU plays a very important role in sharing best practices on detention and alternatives to it following "two major guidelines: strengthening the member states' probation systems and their co-operation, as well as focusing efforts so that future actions of the European Union in the area of sentence serving to play a role in ensuring equivalent penitentiary standards for the proper functioning of mutual recognition instruments."
Part of her attendance of the JHA meeting, Birchall held a series of bilateral meetings with Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus; Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, as well as European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Vera Jourova to discuss enhanced judicial co-operation and dialogue in the area of justice.