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(COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION)

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the institution of the European Union (EU) that encompasses the whole judiciary. Seated in Luxembourg, Luxembourg, it consists of two major courts and a number of specialised courts.

The institution was originally established in 1952 as the Court of Justice of the European Coal and Steel Communities (as of 1958 the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC). With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the court changed to its current name.

Its mission is to ensure that "the law is observed" "in the interpretation and application" of the Treaties. The Court reviews the legality of the acts of the institutions of the European Union; ensures that the Member States comply with obligations under the Treaties; and interprets European Union law at the request of the national courts and tribunals.

The Court constitutes the judicial authority of the European Union and, in cooperation with the courts and tribunals of the Member States, it ensures the uniform application and interpretation of European Union law.
The Court of Justice of the European Union consists of two major courts:

  • The Court of Justice (created in 1952), the highest court in the EU legal system;
  • The General Court (created in 1988; formerly the Court of First Instance);

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union it is tasked with interpreting EU law and ensuring its equal application across all EU member states. The Court was established in 1952 and is based in Luxembourg. It is composed of one judge per member state – currently 28 – although it normally hears cases in panels of three, five or thirteen judges.

The court was established in 1952, by the Treaty of Paris (1951) as part of the European Coal and Steel Community.[1] It was established with seven judges, allowing both representation of each of the six member States and being an unequal number of judges in case of a tie. One judge was appointed from each member state and the seventh seat rotated between the "large Member States" (Germany, France and Italy). It became an institution of two additional Communities in 1957 when the European Economic Community (EEC), and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) were created, sharing the same courts with the European Coal and Steel Community.

The Maastricht Treaty was ratified in 1993, and created the European Union. The name of the Court did not change unlike the other institutions. The power of the Court resided in the Community pillar (the first pillar).[2]

The Court gained power in 1997 with the signing of the Amsterdam Treaty. Issues from the third pillar were transferred to the first pillar. Previously, these issues were settled between the member states.

Following the entrance into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the ECJ's official name was changed from the "Court of Justice of the European Communities" to the "Court of Justice" although in English it is still most common to refer to the Court as the European Court of Justice. The Court of First Instance was renamed as the "General Court", and the term "Court of Justice of the European Union" will officially designate the two courts, as along with its specialised tribunals, taken together.

The ECJ is the highest court of the European Union in matters of Union law, but not national law. It is not possible to appeal the decisions of national courts to the ECJ, but rather national courts refer questions of EU law to the ECJ. However, it is ultimately for the national court to apply the resulting interpretation to the facts of any given case. Although, only courts of final appeal are bound to refer a question of EU law when one is addressed. The treaties give the ECJ the power for consistent application of EU law across the EU as a whole.

The court also acts as arbiter between the EU's institutions and can annul the latter's legal rights if it acts outside its powers.

 The Court of Justice consists of 27 Judges who are assisted by 8 Advocates-General. The Judges and Advocates-General are appointed by common accord of the governments of the member states[5] and hold office for a renewable term of six years. The treaties require that they are chosen from legal experts whose independence is "beyond doubt" and who possess the qualifications required for appointment to the highest judicial offices in their respective countries or who are of recognised competence.

It is the responsibility of the Court of Justice to ensure that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties of the European Union and of the provisions laid down by the competent Community institutions. To enable it to carry out that task, the Court has broad jurisdiction to hear various types of action. The Court has competence, among other things, to rule on applications for annulment or actions for failure to act brought by a Member State or an institution, actions against Member States for failure to fulfil obligations, references for a preliminary ruling and appeals against decisions of the General Court.

The ECJ has its own Rules of Procedure. As a rule the Court's procedure includes a written phase and an oral phase. The proceedings are in a language chosen by the applicant. The working language of the Court, however, including the language in which the judges deliberate and the language in which preliminary reports and judgments are drafted is French. This makes the ECJ, along with the General Court of the European Union, the only international court where French is the sole working language. The Advocates-General, by contrast, may work and draft their opinions in any official language, as they do not take part in any deliberations. These opinions are then translated into French for the benefit of the judges and their deliberations.

 

 
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