Earlier this week, we reported that rather than the 12 new judges initially requested by the European Court of Justice to help with its burgeoning workload, EU member states are about to approve 28 instead thanks to a classic fudge that has more to do with national pride than legal efficiency. As is our practice at Brussels Blog, we thought we’d offer up some more details on how this deal came about, including some of the correspondence between the court and those responsible for making the decision.
The choice to double the size of the ECJ’s general court – the second-highest in the EU – was made only because, for years, national governments couldn’t decide where the 12 new judges would come from. So they decided to name one new jurist from each of the EU’s 28 members instead.
The issue had been deadlocked for three years, but during Greece’s turn at the EU’s rotating presidency last year, Theodoros Sotiropoulis, the courtly Greek ambassador to the EU at the time, dropped an unsubtle hint to the ECJ: you’ll get 28 judges, or you’ll get none. Here’s a copy of that letter (the handwritten Greek at the beginning and end of the letter is due to the fact the ECJ president, Vassilios Skouris, is also Greek):