Transparent Selection of Judges for EU Courts: Complaint to the European Ombudsman
21 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017 Last revised: 30 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 16, 2017
This complaint to the European Ombudsman by Access Info Europe and the HEC-NYU EU Public Interest Clinic alleges maladministration in the selection of judges for the Courts of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The complaint argues that the Council of Europe wrongly refused access to information on selection processes used for CJEU judges.
For each judicial appointment to the CJEU, a special panel issues an opinion regarding the candidate’s suitability. This opinion is not made publicly available and is only shared with member states.
Since 2014, the clinic has repeatedly sought access to the panel opinions. The underlying rationale for requesting access to these opinions is that the public has a right to expect a high degree of transparency about the professional competence of candidates during the judicial selection process.
The Council denied access to the opinions arguing Regulation 1049/2001 (on public access to EU institutions’ documents) does not apply to the requested documents and that the procedure for appointing judges and Advocates General is not within the Council’s “sphere of responsibility.” The EU Ombudsman opened an investigation in 2015 and after examining the panel’s opinion she encouraged the Council to reconsider its disclosure policy.
During this process, the Council announced that it had reassessed its practices and decided to apply Regulation 1049/2001 to documents held by its General Secretariat in relation to tasks supporting various intergovernmental bodies and entities, including the relevant panel.
The Ombudsman welcomed the Council's policy change, and encouraged the complainants to file a new access request to the Council.
In her final 2016 decision, the Ombudsman stated that data relating to the professional competence and activities of public figures, especially those appointed to a high level public posts, may not require the same level of protection as might apply to personal data in other circumstances.
Access Info and the clinic therefore made a repeat request to the Council. A first reply from the Council, received on the same day as the Ombudsman published her final 2016 decision, only granted partial access to the documents and left aside all information relating to the suitability of the candidates – which is the subject matter of this complaint.
The complaint follows on an earlier complaint submitted to the Ombudsman: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2636877.
Keywords: Judicial Transparency, CJEU, Court of Justice, EU Law, European Ombudsman, Access to Information, Transparency, Judicial, Judges
JEL Classification: K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation