Administrative and Court Reform in Central and Eastern Europe

28 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2003

See all articles by Frank Emmert

Frank Emmert

Concordia International University


The pre-accession programmes of the European Union and the candidate countries have focused heavily on law reform. Only relatively recently, it was recognised that successful administrative and court reform would be just as necessary in order to achieve the desired goals, namely that the candidates would eventually be able to take on their obligations as new members of the Union. Unfortunately, it has now become evident that it is easier to write new laws than to get them properly applied in every day practice. This article describes a number of cases to illustrate the problem. It shows that administrators and judges in Central and Eastern Europe have significant difficulties with Western working methods, specifically the application of international norms in the national legal order, due process and procedural safeguards, treatment of precedents, resolution of ambiguities and lacunae in the law, etc., which may in turn result in unjust and sometimes absurd application of laws. These difficulties cannot be resolved merely by organising ever more training courses and other theoretical programmes. The author claims that the majority of efforts promoting administrative and court reform applied so far have rendered only meager results. Therefore, additional and more creative measures have to be designed and implemented and have to be continued for years beyond accession of most of these countries to the EU in 2004. Otherwise, rule of law deserving its name will not materialise in the new Member States. The author concludes by offering some ideas based on many years of experience in the region.

Suggested Citation

Emmert, Frank, Administrative and Court Reform in Central and Eastern Europe. Available at SSRN:

Frank Emmert (Contact Author)

Concordia International University ( email )

Haabneeme, Viimsi vald 74001

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