The Second Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar was held in Luxembourg from 19 – 20 May 2022. Judges from the Supreme Courts of Iceland and Norway, and from two of the highest courts of Liechtenstein – the State Court, and the Administrative Court, together with the Secretaries General of the Supreme Court of Iceland and Norway, joined the Judges of the EFTA Court in Luxembourg. The three participating groups were headed by President Benedikt Bogason of the Supreme Court of Iceland, President Hilmar Hoch of the State Court of Liechtenstein and Chief Justice Toril Marie Øie of the Supreme Court of Norway.
The programme started on 19 May with the opening speech on the “Limits of homogeneity” by Judge Per Christiansen. The delegates then visited the Court of Justice of the European Union, where they were received by Lars Bay Larsen, Vice-President of the Court of Justice, who spoke to them about “The Court of Justice, the preliminary reference procedure and interaction with the EFTA States”.
Back at the premises of the EFTA Court for the afternoon session, Justice Henrik Bull of the Supreme Court of Norway, and a former Judge at the EFTA Court, gave a talk on the “Ex officio application of EEA Law”. This was followed by speeches by Justice Björg Thorarensen of the Supreme Court of Iceland and Judge Bernd Hammerman of the EFTA Court on “Data protection and judicial activity”.
On the second day of this year´s Judicial Summit, the rule of law and judicial independence was the theme for the morning discussions. The Registrar of the Court, Ólafur Jóhannes Einarsson (in the absence of President Hreinsson), talked about the “Rule of law under the EEA Agreement”. Former Judge at the European Court of Justice, Mr Allan Rosas, then provided an overview of the state of the rule of law in the European Union with particular emphasis on the case law of the Court of Justice. Finally, President Bogason, of the Supreme Court of Iceland, gave a presentation on the “Situation under the ECHR – the case of Guðmundur Andri Ástráðsson” a landmark judgment from the ECtHR concerning judicial independence. This year’s judicial summit was closed by a final intervention by President Hilmar Hoch, President Benedikt Bogason, Justice Henrik Bull and Judge Per Christiansen.
The Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar in 2022 was a very welcome platform for the in person exchanging of views and experiences between Supreme Court Justices of all three EFTA States and their colleagues from the EFTA Court, particularly after the Covid-related restrictions of the last couple of years. The Second Judicial Summit of the EFTA Pillar highlighted the importance of judicial dialogue and the value of this event.