Address of welcome in the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of European Administrative Judges, Helsinki 5 June 2014
Honoured Chairman and Members of the Board, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen
The cooperation and internal networks of national judges in the Europe of today are extremely valuable. In the swiftly changing and turbulent world this holds good perhaps more than ever. The Supreme Administrative Court of Finland has the privilege and pleasure to offer you the venue of this General Assembly of the Association of European Administrative Judges, the no less important professional and informal meetings included. We appreciate your choice very much. Warmly welcome everybody.
As you probably all know, the judiciary of Finland consists of two parallel vertical lines, the courts for private law and criminal law cases on the hand, and the administrative courts on the other. The previous line, headed by the Supreme Court, has three layers of instances, and the latter, headed by this Supreme Administrative Court is two-layered. The Supreme Court applies an overall leave-of-appeal threshold for incoming cases and concentrates in landmark cases only, whereas the Supreme Administrative Court today applies the threshold only for a half of all cases. The other half here consists of, so to say, full appeal cases. The annual amount of yearly incoming appeals in this court exceeds four thousand cases.
In Finland all final decisions by various public administrative and governmental bodies, those by the Cabinet and those by the self-governed municipalities included, are appealable to an administrative court. In the Supreme Administrative Court the most abundant categories of cases consist of taxation in its various forms, immigration, environment, nature, building and land use, public procurement, competition, social benefits, child welfare, civil servant cases, municipal law, state aids and subsidies, agriculture and forestry, mining, energy and telecommunication, access to public documents and many, many others.
Two of my colleagues, being presently on leave from this court, are acting in office in the European Courts in Luxembourg, that is Mr Heikki Kanninen, Vice-President of the General Court of the Union, and Dr Niilo Jääskinen, Advocate General in the Court of Justice of the Union. And Dr. Matti Pellonpää, former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, is one of my present colleagues in this court. I am sure that all these three distinguished judges are familiar to many of you. Their interesting presentations we are going to hear tomorrow afternoon in the seminar.
The weather in Finland is always a topical issue, not least because of the less predictable variations. Helsinki may one summer day be one of the warmest capitals in Europe – I suppose today only Madrid and Moscow are warmer. But it could of course be the coolest and rainiest as well. At least today Helsinki is showing you its best aspects of early Finnish summer.
Once again I wish you all welcome to Helsinki and in particular to this Court Building – a former headquarters and set of studios of the Finnish Broadcasting Company by the way, and initially a savings bank. But from 1984, these premises have served the supreme adjudication of administrative justice in Finland.
I wish you all a pleasant stay here in the heart of Helsinki. Have a very successful meeting!