The European Union will double the number of judges sitting at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg at a cost of €20 million a year. This is despite opposition from Britain and the court itself.
The European Court of Justice, which rules on matters relating to the equal application of EU law across member states, has seen an upturn in the number of cases by 26 percent in the last year, The Times has reported. But plans to hire an extra 12 judges to sit alongside the 28 currently in residence, one for each member state, fell apart after four years of bitter argument, as a majority of countries were unwilling to see some member states have more than one judge.
Consequently, ministers are almost certain to vote for a slate of 28 new judges, one from each member state, to sit alongside the current judges, each of whom earns in excess of €220,000 a year. The decision is set to be made at a meeting of EU ministers on 19th May.
“This is a big setback for countries like the UK, especially, that wanted to show that EU institutions can be reformed and streamlined. It doesn’t look good,” a European diplomat has said. Another added that the court needs to be reformed, but that “we are not convinced just doubling the number of judges is the right way to do it”.
The court’s president, Marc Jaeger, has written to governments to express concern about the proposal. In the letter, seen by the Financial Times, he told them “There are more appropriate, more effective and less onerous means by which to strengthen the general court and to achieve better and even faster outcome for litigants.”
Bill Cash, the Conservative chairman of the European scrutiny committee during the last parliament said that the court was already too expensive and political, adding that this decision did “not inspire confidence.”
Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, said the decision illustrated “why the EU is a byword for profligacy and labyrinthine bureaucracy. It is idiotic to have a huge and unnecessary increase in the number of judges when even the EU says they aren’t needed.”