Democracy/Law at German-Speaking Secondary Schools in Bulgaria

A class dealing with democracy and law was organised for the pupils of the upper level of the German department of the foreign-language secondary school in Blagoevgrad from 30 September to 4 October 2013. Approximately 100 secondary school pupils divided into different age groups were introduced to the following topics, amongst others: Basic structures of law, the importance of the law and courts for the state and the individual citizens, means of participation within a democracy. The course programme is based on the law classes of the Ministry of Justice of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The lecturer, Ms Ulrike Schultz, is Akademische Oberrätin (academic senior councillor) holding the chair for German and European Constitutional and Administrative Law as well as International Law at the Distance Teaching University Hagen and plays an important role in the drafting of law classes in NRW.

The law classes are aimed at creating awareness among the young people of the principles of the rule of law and democracy. Human rights, the rights and duties of the individual as a citizen, the limits of action taken by the state and the decision-making process in a democracy were therefore major topics of the programme.

Bulgaria is presently being shaken by various protests, the people are very dissatisfied with the political elite. This is another reason why this class is of particular importance for the young people, as the headmistress of the secondary school pointed out at the kick-off, in order to obtain information about their opportunities within a functioning democracy.

The project is carried out by the IRZ in cooperation with the Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria. The law class in Blagoevgrad is the second event in a row. It was kicked off in spring 2013 at the German-speaking secondary school in Lovech, where approx. 150 pupils took part in the class. In the long run, the classes in democracy are to be included as a permanent component of the curriculum of the schools in Bulgaria.

Seminar in Bulgaria on the European Order for Payment Procedure and Compulsory Enforcement

On 19 and 20 September 2013, a seminar on "The European Order for Payment Procedure and Compulsory Enforcement in Germany" was organised in cooperation with the Appellate Court of Varna in Albena. Sixty civil judges from the Appellate Court of Varna and from thirteen further courts of the district followed the presentations of Dr. Svenja Schröder-Lomb, President of the Local Court of Berlin-Wedding – Central Court for the European Order for Payment Procedure in Germany –, and Mr. Tim Behrend, Head of Division of the Ministry of Justice in North Rhine-Westphalia and judge at the Local Court.

The participants obtained an overview of the fundamentals and the importance of the European Order for Payment Procedure and the procedures and prerequisites established by the European legislator. Amongst others, they worked on finding practical case solutions on the basis of precedents. The knowledge acquired in this process was directly applicable in Bulgaria and facilitated the judges' day-to-day business, the participants stated. The topic also provided the opportunity to discuss and compare the national Bulgarian and German order for payment procedures and the European order for payment procedure, which has a transnational scope of application.

The project on the electronic implementation of the procedure was presented and met with great interest among the participants. As an experienced enforcing judge, Mr. Behrend outlined the fundamentals of compulsory enforcement in Germany, the different types of compulsory enforcement as well as legal remedies in enforcement procedures. As the Bulgarian judges were very engaged in the seminar, it was possible to identify similarities with and differences from Bulgarian regulations.

In the tenth year of the IRZ's close cooperation with the Appellate Court of Varna, this year's seminar at the Black Sea continued the tradition of successful events, thus passing on the know-how of the German experts from all fields of law to almost every judge from the appellate court district.