Europe Is Looking for a Super-Judge
Keywords:Court of Justice of the European Union, Article 255 TFEU panel, appointment of judges to international/European courts, judicial independence and impartiality
One of the cornerstones of the rule of law is an independent, impartial, and high-quality court. It is therefore of the utmost importance that respect for the rule of law in the European Union (inclusive of its member states) be ensured by a court whose members are themselves elected in accordance with the rule of law. This means that, just as for the courts of the Member States, the ideal – which one would hope gets reflected in real-world practice in most cases – is for the Court of Justice of the European Union to be led by independent and impartial judges. Judges who are not only well-versed in their own national law but also fluent in the nuances of European Union law, are oriented toward the global legal world, display an ability to work in an international environment (encompassing several languages, most importantly French as the working language of said court), have an outstanding record of professional and scientific excellence, express themselves clearly and convincingly (both verbally and in writing), and possess impeccable moral and ethical integrity – in short, individuals who are unquestionably leaders in their field and role models for other judges. Indeed, Article 253 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) specifies that the Court of Justice’s judges and Advocates General shall be chosen from among persons 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 lawyers of recognised competence, with appointment by common accord of the governments of the Member States for a term of six years after consulting with the panel provided for by Article 255 TFEU. Membership of the institution’s General Court is similarly regulated. Accordingly, Europe is looking for super-judges and super-Advocates General for the Court of Justice of the European Union. The article gives an overview of the process involved, focusing in particular on the work of the so-called Article 255 panel.