Deal on updated Court of Justice statute 

Press Releases 
 
 
  • More effective judicial proceedings in the Court of Justice  
  • General Court to consider preliminary rulings in clearly defined areas 
  • Extension of appeal filtering mechanism  

MEPs of the Legal Affairs Committee and EU member states found an agreement on how to make division of labour in the Court of Justice more efficient.

Updated statue should allow transferring requests for preliminary rulings in clearly defined areas from the Court of Justice to the General Court and enable extension of the appeal filtering mechanism.

Better division of labour

According to the provisional agreement, to improve efficiency of judicial proceedings and ensure proper administration of justice, requests for preliminary rulings in specific areas such as common VAT system, excise duties, Customs Code, compensation for passengers for delayed or cancelled transport services or scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading should be transferred from the Court of Justice to the General Court. This should alleviate the Court of Justice of some of the workload, since requests in those areas represent on average 20% of all requests. MEPs ensured that the most sensitive and complex cases regarding interpretation of the primary law will continue to be heard by the Court of Justice. MEPs also proposed clear rules regarding the nomination and role of advocates general responsible for preparing the cases in the General Court.

Extension of appeal mechanism

Given the rising number of appeals against the decisions of the General Court and to ensure that the Court of Justice can focus on the appeals raising important legal questions, the reform proposal allows for extension of mechanism determining whether an appeal is allowed to proceed. This extension should concern cases already considered twice - by an independent board of appeal and by the General Court and should also include disputes relating to the performance of contracts containing an arbitration clause. These appeals will only proceed in case the Court of Justice decides so and this decision must be reasoned and published.

Other statute improvements

MEPs also improved transparency measures by ensuring public access to some of the documents held by the Court of Justice, such as written observations by the parties in the case. In case of a new request for preliminary ruling, MEPs ensured that the European Parliament, the Council and the European Central Bank will from now on be always entitled to submit statements or written observations to the Court. Negotiators also accepted Parliament’s proposal that future requests for statute changes should be subject to prior public consultation and that the Court should publish and regularly update the list of examples of how the reform is applied and implemented. It was also agreed that the Parliament and the Court will engage in an annual dialogue on the functioning of the judicial system of the EU.

Quote

Following the negotiations, lead MEP Ilana Cicurel (Renew, FR) said: „Speeding up court proceedings while maintaining high-quality justice is an urgent need across Europe. At the end of these demanding and fruitful negotiations with the member states, Commission and the Court of Justice, we have managed to considerably reduce the time of judgements’ delivery across Europe and introduced unprecedented transparency measures for a more accessible justice to the benefit of the EU citizens.“

Next steps

Once formally approved by the plenary and the member states, the updated statute will enter into force in the month following its publication in the Official Journal.

Background

Given the rising number of requests for a preliminary ruling brought before the Court of Justice and of appeals against the decisions of the General Court, the Court of Justice submitted a request for amending the Protocol No 3 on its Statute in December 2022. The aim of the reform is to improve effectiveness of the workload management in the Court of Justice.