Friday

19th Oct 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

News in Brief

  1. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  2. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  3. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain
  4. Merkel: Focus on banking union at December EU summit
  5. Scotland confirms mad cow disease case
  6. European 'Green surge' set for repeat in Hessen election
  7. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  8. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  2. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  3. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  4. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  5. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  6. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  7. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  8. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us