On 24-25 February 2021, the XVIII Congress of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts (CECC) took place. The event marked the conclusion of almost four-year long presidency of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic over the organization, which brings together forty-one European constitutional courts and equivalent institutions. The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic was elected to chair the CECC in 2017. In 2018, a preparatory meeting of the Circle of Presidents was held in Prague. This decision-making body of the CECC approved then, among other things, the theme of the XVIII Congress: "Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: The Relationship of International, Transnational and National Catalogues in the 21st Century". The XVIII Congress of the CECC was supposed to be held on 26-29 May 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event had to be rescheduled. The Circle of Presidents approved by way of a circular resolution (correspondence voting) the postponement of the XVIII Congress of the CECC to February 2021. Unfortunately, the pandemic has not lost its grip so far.
Taking into account all the measures introduced by state authorities in order to stop the spread of the disease a decision to organize the XVIII Congress of the CECC and the associated meeting of the Circle of Presidents entirely in an on-line mode with remote participation of all the invitees was made. Despite many challenges posed by this unprecedented solution, the event was a great success. Almost 90% of the CECC members took part in the Congress proceedings. The meeting of the Circle of Presidents was held on 24 February. The participants were able to discuss many topical issues, as well as decide and vote on various particular questions concerning the CECC and its workings. Subsequently, on 25 February, the XVIII Congress of the CECC itself took place. The whole event was broadcasted live to almost two hundred guests. A dozen of personalities representing national constitutional courts, international courts, regional organizations of constitutional justice and other international judicial organizations addressed the Congress. Namely, Mr. Gianni Buquicchio (President of the Venice Commission), Mr. Kairat Mami (Chairman of the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan and current President of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions), Mr. Manuel Aragão (President of the Constitutional Tribunal of Angola and current President of the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa), Mr. Ivan Fiačan (President of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic), Mr. Frank Clarke (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland), Mr. Stephan Harbarth (President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany), Mr. Robert Spano (President of the European Court of Human Rights), Mr. Koen Lenaerts (President of the Court of Justice of the European Union), Mrs. Snježana Bagić (Deputy President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia), Mr. Boris Velchev (Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bulgaria), Mr. Christoph Grabenwarter (President of the Constitutional Court of Austria) and Mrs. Domnica Manole (President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova).
With the exception of the representatives of the host, all the speakers delivered their speeches via pre-recordings. The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic was represented by its President Mr. Pavel Rychetský who gave the opening as well as the closing speech. His words underlined the importance of common values of the European constitutional judiciary. Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic Mr. Jaroslav Fenyk, fulfilling his role of the General Rapporteur of the XVIII Congress of the CECC, presented the audience with the General Report. Justice Mr. Jiří Zemánek and Justice Mr. David Uhlíř assumed chairmanship of the thematic sessions.
The ability of the host and the entire organizational team to cope with unprecedented challenges and its efforts to ensure the continuation of European judicial cooperation and legal dialogue have received appreciation and many positive reactions from the CECC member courts. The XVIII Congress of the CECC clearly proved that the cooperation of the European constitutional courts is truly important and that the values on which the CECC is founded are worthy of protection at any time.