Bids fly in for share of money to promote Euro law harmony

Applications for a share of the £7m donated by the European Union to help lawyers learn more about international law have begun to flood in.

More than 80 applications have already been received by the Commission for the Grotius programme, named after the man who invented international law, since it was approved by ministers last month.

Cash will be given to individual projects which are designed to either help lawyers learn about the laws and legal language of other member states or promote domestic law to other lawyers in the EU.

It is part of the EU's stated aim of forging a common link in justice and home affairs, thereby making it easier to crack down on cross-border organised crime.

For a project to receive funding it must be managed by a national or non-governmental organisation. It might be a twinning programme, a conference or a research initiative.

Patrick Oliver, the Brussels representative for all the UK's law societies, has been informing local law societies about the scheme.

He said: “By giving lawyers the chance to develop ties with continental colleagues it enables them to provide a better service to their clients.

“As the barriers in Europe come down, clients will become more globalised and lawyers will have to respond.”

He said that project initiatives would be driven to a certain extent by commercial realities and that it would give lawyers the opportunity to develop links with all member states.