Jan Pniak

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Institutions of the EU

Court of Justice of the EU

by Jan Pniak, 2010

Court of Justice of the European Union was established in 1952 within the ECSC, at that time its name was Court of Justice of the European Coal and Steel Communities. It's divided into three institutions:


European Court of Justice(ECJ)

ECJ is the highest court in European Union and its decisions are definitive.
Its task is to interpret european law to ensure equal law application across the member states. Another task is to give legal judgements in cases brought before it.




The Court is settled in Luxembourg. There are 27 judges, one for each member state. They don't sit all-together in plenary sessions very often, they usually sit in 13(Grand Chamber), 5 or 3 chambers to make the Court work more efficient. They're elected by government and hold their office for a six year term and they can be re-elected.

The judges are assisted by eight "advocates-generals". Their role is to present their own opinions about the cases brought before the Court. They're also elected by government for six-years renewable terms.

How does the Court work?

If you want to hear a verdict of the Court there is a requirement - you must try all possibilities to get a judgement in your contry.

The procedure has two stages:

  1. All the parties involved submit their written statements. The assigned judge summarises them and writes a report.
  2. Now comes the public hearing, the involved parties' lawyers present their opinions of the case and the judges and adovocate-general question them. Then they deliver the judgement.

Court of First Instance

As the title implies this institution works as a first instance court of ECJ. It's responsible for giving rulings on certain kinds of cases. The goal is to make the Court work quicker and more efficient.

Civil Service Tribunal

This tribunal solves the problems and cases between the EU and its civil service(administration). It is attached to the Court of First Instance and composed of seven judges.


For me, the whole structure of The Court of the EU was at first when I got in touch with it quite confusing and unclear, i didn't understand the relationships between the institutions, mainly due to fact that the institution names are very similar.

I can't judge how well(or badly) does the Court work, because I have no personal experience with it, but I think that it is good to have an opportunity to get a just judgement, when you have no other option in your homeland.

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