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Research Report

The Reform of the EU Courts (II): Abandoning the Management Approach by Doubling the General Court

Franklin Dehousse
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2016
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 84
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-9)
    Franklin Dehousse

    The Lisbon Treaty introduced numerous changes in the constitutional status of the judicial arm of the European Union. In 2011, the Court of Justice launched its first legislative initiative in this framework. The initiation of this procedure was thus something novel. As it has turned out, it has contained many surprises for both those involved and those observing it.

    After four and a half years of negotiations, what was adopted at the end had very little resemblance to what had been proposed at the start. What was presented as (and arguably was) a change of a technical character metamorphosed into...

  2. (pp. 11-11)

    Article 281 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), provides that the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, may amend the provisions of the Statute of the Court of Justice (protocol n° 3 to the TFEU)12, with certain exceptions. They may do so at the request of the Court of Justice and after consultation of the Commission, or on a proposal from the Commission after consultation of the Court of Justice13.

    The Court of Justice already had the capacity to make such a request under Article 245 TEC (Nice...

  3. (pp. 13-18)

    On 28 March 2011, the Court of Justice submitted to the Council and the Parliament a set of amendments to the Statute of the Court of Justice.17 They concerned the three EU courts. They aimed to (a) modify the rules relating to the composition of the Grand Chamber and to establish the office of Vice-President of the Court of Justice, (b) provide for the possibility of attaching temporary judges to the specialized courts in order to substitute those judges that may be absent for a long time; and (c) add 12 new judges to the General Court18. This paper focusses...

  4. (pp. 19-21)

    A document of 15 October 2012 prepared by the Cyprus presidency,35 acknowledged that delegations were unable to agree on the impact of the increase of the number of Judges by, respectively, 6, 9, 12 or 15 on the backlog of pending cases and the average duration of proceedings and the budgetary implications of each of these options. Some of its contents require comment.

    Firstly, for the presidency, “it follows from the statistical data submitted by the Court that there is a growing gap between the number of new cases brought before the General Court and the number of cases completed...

  5. (pp. 23-46)

    On 13 October 2014, the Court of Justice sent a letter to the Council40. It reported that, according to the Greek Presidency, the Council would not assent to any solution involving a number of judges less than the number of Member States. It indicated that the Council had recently encountered substantial difficulties in appointing new judges to the CST41. It affirmed that the situation of the GC had deteriorated.

    In these circumstances, the Court of Justice proposed to increase the number of judges at the GC to two per Member State, which increase was to be phased in so as...

  6. (pp. 47-64)

    In 2011, a basic managerial analysis could already provide much information about the most appropriate steps required to reform the General Court.103 Between 2011 and 2015, some of the measures recommended by the author were taken and produced quite impressive results. In that perspective, it is important to assess the impact of those measures that worked and those that did not. This chapter will examine the measures that reduced the backlog (5.1.), some additional measures that could increase productivity (5.2.), and other measures that could be required by reason of doubling the number of judges (5.3 to 5.6).

    Curiously, even...

  7. (pp. 65-67)

    Over time different goals have been set for the reform of the General Court: reduction of the backlog, reduction of the length of proceedings, bigger chambers, coherence of jurisprudence, new regime of appeals, transfers of additional jurisdiction from the Court of Justice to the General Court. To bring about fundamental reform requires a far clearer vision of its long term objectives. Since the goals changed frequently, the clarity of the design inevitably became far from clear, which may explain the description of the changes as “a leap in the dark” by some observers.

    As indicated by the author in 2011,...

  8. (pp. 69-71)

    The proposal to enlarge the General Court was the first legislative initiative taken by the CJEU in the framework of the Lisbon Treaty, and was also the first participation of the European Parliament in such a debate. It has brought about a massive change in the entire judicial system of the EU. For the future, it is extremely important to draw the proper institutional lessons.

    There was a fundamental difference between the Court of Justice’s first and second proposals, on the one hand, and the third and final one, on the other. The stakes in the third proposal were far...