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Defender of law in European Union
Artykuł w języku angielskim o Europejskim Trybunale Sprawiedliwości.
Times when the ECJ was perceived as a institution which didnłt have big impact on EU law and on EU generally as an organization are gone now. Today the Court arouses stronger passions. Of course as almost everything it has itłs followers and opponents, but therełs no doubt about it great role in shaping EU law and consequently whole EU as one united organization.
The ECJ was established in 1951 under the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty which was signed in Paris. The art.31 of the treaty gave the Court the power according to which it was supposed to make sure that all Member States would obey the law which they have signed. The ECJ was given some specific powers for example to cancel laws of other institutions or to analyze and make decisions against sanctions and penalty payments imposed under the Treaty.
What is more it was given the power to order the Community to make good any injury caused by a wrongful act. If these were not enough it was given the power that is usually given to the National Courts only, the ECJ had sole jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings on the validity of acts of High Authority and of the Council. Funny thing is that the Court was originally housed in Luxembourg in the Villa Vauban a mansion named after a great French military engineer and builder of defensive fortification. It looks like the authors of the Treaty have seen it as a defender of the Treaty.
The process initiated in Paris moved up in Rome, where in 1957 two next Treaties were signed: the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community.
The task of the EEC was much more far-reaching. It showed a strong will of the member countries to create a very close union of people of Europe - "to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe"
Alongside the EEC and the EAEC Treaties, the Members States also signed a Convention on Certain Institution Common to the European Communities, one of which effects was to create a single Court of Justice with jurisdiction under all three Treaties. Coming into force of the two Rome Treaties in 1958 was the beginning of the Court of Justice of European Communities.
The Court of Justice originally consisted of seven Judges assisted by two Advocates General. It has now grown to 25 Judges and eight Advocates General. As in all courts of law, the general function of a Judge in Court of Justice is to hear and decide cases.
In Nice the Member States decided that the Court should consist of one Judge per Member State. Such solution helps to ensure that the case law of the Court is infused with the legal cultures of each national system.
The Court sits either as a full Court or more commonly as chambers. The full Court comprises all the Judges, but for validity of its decisions 15 Judges are enough. The full Court is required only in three cases but case may be also assigned to the full Court when it is considered to be very important.
Grand Chamber has 13 Judges but it is enough if there are 9 Judges. Grand Chamber hears cases which are important or if there is some special situation.
The meetings of the Court are secret and only the Judges can be there Advocate General, assistants or interpreters are all excluded.
The deliberation itself will normally begin with an invitation from the President of the formation of the Judge Rapporteur to comment on the case. Decisions are taken always by all the Judges even if there was a vote not only the majority alone determine the form and content of the judgment.
The style of the Court's judgments depends on the language in which they are made. The language of the case may be different from the Court's working language. The language of the case may be one of 21 languages listed in in Article 29 of the Rules of Procedure.
In direct actions, that is, actions which start and finish before the Court, the language of the case is normally chosen by the applicant. Usually the Court uses French as the working language. It means that the consultations and judgments are made in French and then translated into the original language of the applicant.
One Advocate General is nominated by each of the five largest Member States, others rotate among other countries. Each case is given Advocate General. His or her job is to present an independent Opinion to the Court after the applicants presented their points of view and before the Court starts its session. It is also a recommendation what decision should be made by the Judges. They don't have to follow this recommendation but it is helpful.
Judges and Advocates General have the same status as members of the Court so the procedures of electing them are the same. They are members of the Court for six years and they can be chosen more than once. Originally they did not have to be layers, it was enough if they were independent and competent. They should be people who have qualifications for highest court offices in their countries or who are known experts in the field of law.
Now Article 2 says that members must be "impartially and conscientiously and to preserve the secrecy of the deliberations of the Court". Article 4 says that members may not hold any political or administrative office or engage in any occupation without the authorization of the Council.
Of course all Member States are interested in having their Judge in the Court, because they can always be taken to court by someone, be a part in a case or simply be interested in the result of a particular case. It is always easier to have influence on the ECJ if you have somebody inside.