EU agrees on the reform of the Court of Justice

Reform of the Court of Justice

In a significant step towards enhancing the efficiency of its judicial system, the Spanish Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament (EP) have reached a provisional agreement on reforming the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). This agreement, between the Council presidency and representatives of the EP, is in the context of a growing number of complex and sensitive cases being brought before the EU courts.

This reform proposal, initially put forward by the Court of Justice in December 2022, was negotiated with the participation of the Court of Justice, and the also European Commission.

The reform of the Statute of the Court of Justice marks a pivotal moment in the EU’s ongoing efforts to modernize and streamline its judicial process, reflecting a commitment to upholding a robust and effective administration of justice.

Key Provisions of the approved agreement on the reform  

Efficiency in Judicial Management 

The reform leverages a prior judicial reform that increased the number of judges in the General Court, aiming to enhance the management of judicial work at the Court of Justice of the EU. 

Changes in Preliminary Rulings 

A significant aspect of the reform is the transfer of jurisdiction over preliminary rulings to the General Court in certain areas. However, the Court of Justice will maintain jurisdiction over questions of principle, including the interpretation of the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.  

Areas, where the General Court will have jurisdiction, include the common system of value-added tax, excise duties, the Customs Code, the tariff classification of goods under the Combined Nomenclature and others related to transportation services and environmental schemes. 

“One-Stop-Shop” Mechanism 

The reform introduces a streamlined process where national judges will continue to direct requests for preliminary rulings to the Court of Justice, which will then forward relevant questions to the General Court. This mechanism aims to simplify the procedural aspects of cases. 

Procedural Guarantees 

The reform ensures that procedural guarantees at the General Court are aligned with those at the Court of Justice. This includes appointing judges as Advocates-General for opinions on preliminary questions and creating a chamber of intermediate size at the General Court for specific preliminary ruling requests. 

Limiting Appeals 

Extending the 2019 filtering mechanism appeals to the Court of Justice will be limited. Cases previously considered by an independent board of appeal and the General Court will only proceed to the Court of Justice if they present significant issues concerning the unity, consistency, or development of EU law. 

Transparency Measures 

In a move to increase transparency, written submissions in preliminary ruling requests will be made public post-judgment, barring objections from concerned parties. This measure aims to bolster accountability and trust in the EU legal system.  

The reform also aims to improve transparency in preliminary ruling cases by publishing written submissions post-judgment, unless objected to by an involved party, thereby increasing accountability and trust in the EU legal system and by extension the EU. 

Next Steps and Background 

The provisional agreement now awaits endorsement by both the Council and the Parliament while afterwards, the formal adoption will occur following a legal-linguistic review.