Monday

20th Jan 2020

MEPs to grill EU judges on court reform

An unusual hearing will take place in Strasbourg on Tuesday (28 April) afternoon when European Court of Justice (ECJ) judges answer MEPs' questions about the internal operations of the Court.

The ECJ president Vassilios Skouris, as well as the president of the general Court Marc Jaeger and several other judges, will be questioned by members of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee about the Court’s plan to double the number of its judges at a cost of €23 million each year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The hearing, organised by Portuguese Liberal MEP Antonio Marinho e Pinto, will be a closed-door meeting and not an official hearing.

But it could trigger a parliament move to counter the controversial EU court reform.

According to the planned change, the ECJ’s Civil Service court, one of its three chambers, would be abolished and the General Court would move from 28 judges to 56 - two for each EU member state.

The reform, initiated by Skouris and endorsed by member states, is opposed by Court judges themselves.

They are calling for a smaller increase in the number of judges, from 28 to 40, and an increase in the number of legal assistants.

This lighter reform would cost less and would respond better to the increase in the number of cases treated by the Court, they say.

The opposition is led by Marc Jaeger, the president of the General Court.

Jaeger wrote to Italy’s ambassador to the EU last year, when Italy held the EU rotating presidency, saying the reform is "inappropriate".

"There are more appropriate, more effective and less onerous means by which to strengthen the General Court and to achieve better and even faster outcome for litigants," he said in the letter, leaked to the Liberation and the Financial Times newspapers.

Jaeger’s initiative prompted a strong reaction from the ECJ president.

In a letter also leaked to the Financial Times, Skouris accused Jaeger of "lack[ing] respect for institutional rules" and "seriously damag[ing] the Court’s position in future budgetary negotiations".

"The Court must no longer consider itself bound by the commitment … that the chambers of the court [to be created in 2019] would obtain posts for referendaires and assistants," he added.

Both Skouris and Jaeger will be heard by the EP committee, which itself also opposes the change.

Skouris first opposed the hearing by Marinho e Pinto on grounds the parliament has no power to choose which judges are to attend its hearings.

But he later accepted to go to Strasbourg.

EU-US data pact skewered in court hearing

A lawyer for the European Commission told an EU judge on Tuesday he should close his Facebook page if he wants to stop the US snooping on him.

ECJ ruling to prompt pan-European pension schemes

Establishment of a pan-European pension scheme is more likely after a European Court of Justice ruling on Thursday, which states that tax breaks for pension schemes should apply across borders. A worker in any EU state who has a pension scheme in another European country could have the right to continue paying into the scheme without significantly losing tax benefits.

Thousands apply for EU border guard posts

Around 7,500 applications were sent to Frontex to fill 700 new border guard posts. The guards will become official EU staff and wear a yet to be unveiled 'European Union' uniform.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

News in Brief

  1. Malta: Another minister resigns over Caruana Galizia murder
  2. Belgian region threatens to block EU-Mercosur trade deal
  3. EU to cut pre-accession aid to Turkey by 75 percent
  4. Libya peace talks: 'new spirit' to find solution
  5. EU financial firms flock to UK
  6. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  7. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  8. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us