Who we are
The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), founded in 1960, is an international non-profit association which has been, since its creation, at the forefront of advancing the views of European lawyers and defending the legal principles upon which democracy and the rule of law are based (see Our History).
The CCBE is recognised as the voice of the European legal profession representing, through its members, more than 1 million European lawyers.
CCBE membership includes the bars and law societies of 45 countries from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and wider Europe. The organisation consists of 32 member countries and 13 further associate and observer countries (see Statutes for information on membership determination).
The CCBE represents European bars and law societies in their common interests before European and other international institutions. It regularly acts as a liaison between its members and the European institutions, international organisations, and other legal organisations around the world.
The regulation of the profession, the defence of the rule of law, human rights and democratic values are the most important missions of the CCBE. Areas of special concern include the right of access to justice, the digitisation of justice processes, the development of the rule of law, and the protection of the client through the promotion and defence of the core values of the profession.
There are many issues that affect lawyers at the European level: the impact of technological evolutions on the profession's core values, the relationship between the duties of lawyers and the duties of governments to provide security for citizens, and the impact of globalisation and market liberalisation on the legal profession. With particular regard to European cross-border matters as they affect lawyers, the European Commission closely consulted with the CCBE on the promulgation of a series of European directives that regulate the way that lawyers can practise in other Member States, either by way of temporary services, establishment or re-qualification.
The CCBE also supported the European Commission in the development of an e-justice portal, providing European citizens with practical information, in their language, on judicial system and procedures. The portal aims to increase visibility and help in order to improve access to justice for European citizens.
Outside of the EU, the CCBE works with other lawyers' organisations around the world on issues of common interest to the legal profession, such as the independence of the profession and the judiciary, lawyer-client confidentiality, access to justice, rule of law, and the ability of all lawyers to freely practise their profession without harassment or hindrance.
The CCBE regularly issues letters in defence of at-risk human rights practitioners and grants an annual Human Rights Award to distinguished lawyers/lawyers’ organisations that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and sacrifice to uphold the values of the legal profession.