Institutional constraints and collegiality at the Court of Justice of the European Union: A sense of belonging?

15 Aug 2017

This article examines how judicial selection, appointment and renewal processes deeply constrain and influence the decision-making processes at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The short tenure period combined with the permanent triennial renewal of sitting judges are a source of instability at the CJEU and the discretion left to Member States for renewal is a concern for judicial independence. Besides, even if Member States were to concur on the core requirements of judicial merit, they may disagree on what judicial merit means in the context of the CJEU. Against this institutional background, collegiality, as a constitutive value, is a safeguard of independence as much as it facilitates the development of a common discourse within which individual decisions will be made. In this context, the development of legal principles is no worse than can reasonably be expected; the judges display considerable independence within the constraints placed upon the CJEU. However, some judgments may appear to be compromises; more radical reform is needed for those who hanker for clearer and bolder decisions. More ambitious judicial reforms can only succeed with a single, non-renewable term of office, without any triennial renewal of CJEU membership.