A top European Union (EU) judge has launched a scathing attack on his own court, describing it as too big, too powerful and saying that recent reforms are a disaster.
Franklin Dehousse, a judge in the European General Court (EGC), has written an outspoken report attacking proposals to double the size of the court, concluding that it even hid the fact it had cleared its case backlog so EU leaders would approve extra funding.
He also described the failure of the court and the European Parliament to conduct a detailed impact assessment regarding the changes as “shocking”, arguing EU leaders failed to properly consider the consequences.
The EGC is one of the EU’s three courts major courts, the others being the European Court of Justice and the Civil Service Tribunal. It currently consists of 28 judges – one from EU member state – plus a registrar.
The proposed changes would abolish the Civil Service Tribunal and double the number of EGC judges, however Mr Dehousse says the inability of member states to agree on anything substantive other than an arbitrary increase in size has become “a clear source of useless spending, and risks now contaminating the EU judicial system.”
As well as the increase in size, Mr Dehousse also criticises the court’s wide powers, saying that both the EGC and the European Court of Justice are far more powerful than anything found within member states.
“Supreme Courts do not enjoy a right of legislative initiative, let alone a quasi-monopoly over it,” he writes. “The events of the last four years tend to show that serious consideration ought to be given to the withdrawal of this exorbitant prerogative.”
There have been increasing concerns in Britain over the increasing power of European judges to legislate in a wide variety of areas.
Legal experts have warned that David Cameron’s “EU deal” that he hopes will persuade Britons to vote to stay in the EU could be struck down by the European Court of Justice.
Jonathan Faull, Director-General of the European Commission’s ‘Task Force for Strategic Issues related to the UK Referendum’, told MEPs: “This is written by human beings, I hope clever human beings, but there are equally clever lawyers will want to look into text which will be translated into all our different languages.
“We think it is precise and lawful. I can’t rule out there won’t be arguments about what this word meant in that paragraph. That’s human nature.”
In a more bizarre ruling, the court also ruled in December 2014 that obesity should be classed as a “disability”, with workplaces forced to accommodate seriously overweight employees even if their weight is due to gluttony.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England described the ruling as “daft”. The court was “practically pretending that obesity is inevitable” he said.