EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE
Letter from Denis MacShane, Minister for
Europe, to the Chairman
During my evidence session to your Committee
on 21 January, I promised to write to you in reply to Lord Scott
of Foscote's question about the practical challenges of enlargement,
concerning the size of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Please
accept my apologies for the delay in responding.
The European Community Treaty, as amended by
the Treaty of Nice, which is now in force, provides that the ECJ
shall consist of one judge per Member State. This will continue
to be the case following enlargement.
Prior to the Nice Treaty, it was already possible
for the court to sit in chambers in certain cases. Under the Nice
reforms, the ECJ can now sit in chambers, as a Grand Chamber or
as the full court, as determined by the Statute of the Court.
This further increases the ECJ's flexibility to sit in smaller
numbers. It is important to maintain the principle of one judge
per Member State in the ECJ. This makes a crucial contribution
to ensuring that the ECJ as a body acts with a sound understanding
of the EU's different legal traditions.
The Convention on the Future of Europe has set
up a discussion circle on the ECJ. Baroness Scotland and Lord
Maclennan are both members of this group, which will consider
in more detail issues relating to the ECJ.
4 March 2003