Dear friends and members of the UAE,
I am delighted to be addressing you for the first time as the new President of our prestigious international lawyers’ association, which I will have the honour of representing for the next two years.
On 13 October this year, the General Assembly of the UAE took place in the beautiful city of Marseille. New appointments were made to the Board and the Executive Committee on the day after an international conference entitled “Europe and Risk Management: Unexpected Effects of the Precautionary Principle”, which was superbly organized by Gerard Abitbol, the Dean of the Honorary Presidents of the UAE.
During the conference, there was an in-depth discussion of the importance and the impact of the principle in the member states of the EU. It is an important means of assessing and reducing risks, but it must be applied with reason. This is especially true during the period of economic and social hardship that Europe is currently experiencing, as people feel more of a need for tools to promote economic development and growth than they do for restrictions.
The principles of European Union law are an extremely valuable product of our legal tradition and the developments in jurisprudence made over the last 60 years by the European Court of Justice. During their application, it is only natural that varying interpretations of them by different figures can sometimes lead to problems which must be evaluated very carefully. At the same time, when applying the precautionary principle, it is also necessary to take into account other general principles of equal importance, such as guaranteeing that the measures taken are in proportion with the desired level of protection, applying the required measures without discrimination, and ensuring that the required measures are coherent with those previously taken in similar circumstances.
The large number of participants in the conference in Marseille were able to engage in a debate about the current situation in Europe. As firm supporters of European unity, we believed that the structure was capable of overcoming all obstacles, but the economic crisis has highlighted just how fragile it really is.
At the end of the day, we are all aware that the establishment of the European Union is an irreversible process and that its validity cannot be questioned. Despite the recurring difficulties, it is a unique scheme that has permanently changed Europe for the better.
It was during our conference that we learned that the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to the European Union. According to the official explanation of the Nobel Committee, this was because it has “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” for over six decades.
Consequently, there was a fresh feeling of enthusiasm and optimism as our association’s General Assembly came to a close the following day. ENTHUSIASM, COMMUNICATION and TRADITION are the three words that I would like to epitomize the work of the UAE during my time in office.
The members of the European Lawyers’ Union are conscious of their fundamental role in society as defenders of the rights and interests of the people. They believe that Europe can make a recovery and they intend to play a leading part in it.
PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN LAWYERS’ UNION