Academy of European Law (ERA)
The Academy of European Law is a non-profit public foundation that provides training in European law to legal practitioners. Its patrons include most EU member states and it is supported by the EU. ERA organises conferences and seminars around Europe, offers an online training programme which includes a broad range of courses and e-presentations and publishes a legal journal ERA Forum.
The Academy of European Law began work in Trier in March 1992.
Its genesis was associated with the rapid pace of European integration during the late 1980s and 1990s. With the Single European Act in 1986 and the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the scope of European legislation became wider than ever before.
It was clear that lawyers, judges and other legal practitioners at all levels and in almost all fields of law would need regular training and a forum for debate in order to keep up-to-date with the latest developments.
In 1990 the European Parliament recommended that the Commission invest in a centre for the continuing education of lawyers in order to improve the application of European law.
Meanwhile, Peter Caesar, the Minister of Justice of the German Land of Rhineland-Palatinate, together with Horst Langes and Willi Rothley, Members of the European Parliament from the same region, were drawing up proposals for an Academy of European Law to be established in Trier.
In 1991, the European Parliament endorsed these proposals in a report drafted by the Dutch MEP James Janssen van Raay.
An Association for the Promotion of the Academy of European Law was established to turn the idea into reality. The association continues to support the Academy's work and is known as the 'Friends of ERA'.
The Luxembourg Government, led by Prime Minister Jacques Santer and Justice Minister Marc Fischbach, also lent its support, and the European Commission agreed to the Parliament's decision to provide the Academy with regular funding.
Trier was chosen as the location of the Academy because of its proximity to the judicial capital of the European Union in Luxembourg.
So it was that on 8-9 November 1991 - one week before the European Court of Justice delivered its 'Francovich' decision establishing the liability of member states to implement Community Law and one month before the Treaty on European Union was agreed in Maastricht - the project of an Academy of European Law was formally launched at a ceremony in Trier.
The founding patrons were the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate and the City of Trier. In the intervening years, the majority of EU Member States has joined the foundation.
Many other leading figures in the field of European law actively supported the launch of the Academy. Notable among these was Ole Due, then President of the European Court of Justice, who together with many of his fellow judges began a tradition of close co-operation between the Court in Luxembourg and the Academy.
The Academy took possession of its purpose-built premises, provided by the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate, in the summer of 1998. The complex was opened by Jacques Santer, José María Gil-Robles Gil-Delgado and Gil Carlos Rodríguez Iglesias, then Presidents of the European Commission, European Parliament and Court of Justice respectively.
The Academy has built up a specialised library that includes publications on all areas of Community law from both the European and national perspectives. Since 1999 it has served as a European Documentation Centre with an up-to-date archive of all official EU publications in English, French and German.