1. Role of the CJEU

The role of the CJEU is to interpret European Union (EU) law to ensure that it is applied in the same way in all EU countries. It also resolves disputes between national governments and the European institutions.

2. Composition of the CJEU

The CJEU is in turn made up of two Courts:

  • The Court of Justice is made up of one judge from each member country and eleven advocates general.
  • The General Court is made up of two judges from each member country.

3. Competences

3.1   Competences of the Court of Justice

Preliminary rulings. The Court of Justice works in cooperation with the courts of the Member States, which are ordinary judges responsible for applying EU law. In order to ensure the effective and uniform application of EU law and to avoid divergent interpretations, national courts may, and sometimes must, refer questions of interpretation of EU law to the Court of Justice, for example, in order to check the compliance of national legislation with EU law. The question referred for a preliminary ruling may also concern a review of the validity of an act of European Union law.

In this respect, decisions to refer a case to the Court of Justice are a matter for the court alone, although the parties may request a preliminary ruling.

Infringement proceedings. This enables the Court of Justice to verify whether the Member States are complying with their obligations under EU law. Before the case is brought before the Court of Justice, a preliminary procedure is conducted by the Commission, in which the Member State concerned is called upon to respond to the allegations made against it. Following this procedure, if the Member State has not remedied the infringement, action may be brought before the Court of Justice for infringement of EU law.

Annulment proceedings. By this action, the applicant seeks the annulment of an act by an institution, body, office or agency of the Union (in particular regulations, directives and decisions).

Proceedings for failure to act. This action allows the legality of the failure to act by an institution, body, office or agency of the Union to be reviewed. However, this action may be brought only after the institution has been called upon to act. Once the illegality of the failure to act has been established, it is incumbent on the institution concerned to take the necessary measures to remedy the situation.

Review proceedings. An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Court of Justice against judgments and orders of the General Court. If the appeal is admissible and well founded, the Court of Justice shall set aside the decision of the General Court. Where the state of the proceedings so permits, the Court of Justice shall decide the case. If not, it shall refer the case back to the General Court, which shall be bound by the decision of the Court of Justice on appeal.

3.2 Competences of the General Court

Annulment proceedings. Actions brought by natural or legal persons seeking to annul acts of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the European Union to which they are parties or which concern them directly and individually (for example, an action brought by an undertaking against a Commission decision imposing a fine upon it) and against regulatory acts which concern it directly and which do not include implementing measures, and actions brought by the same persons for a declaration of failure to act by these institutions, bodies, offices or agencies.

Actions brought by Member States against the Commission.

Actions brought by Member States against the Council concerning acts adopted by the Council in the domain of State aid, trade defence measures (“dumping”) and acts by which it exercises implementing powers.

Actions for compensation for damage caused by the institutions or by bodies, offices or agencies of the European Union or its agents.

Actions based on contracts entered into by the European Union which expressly provide for the jurisdiction of the General Court.

Actions in the domain of intellectual property brought against the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).

Disputes between the institutions of the European Union and its staff concerning employment relations and the social security system;

N.B.: Decisions delivered by the General Court may be subject, within two months, to a right of appeal on points of law only, to the Court of Justice.

Nota: Las resoluciones dictadas por el Tribunal General pueden ser objeto, en un plazo de dos meses, de un recurso de casación limitado a las cuestiones de Derecho ante el Tribunal de Justicia.

Imagen de Laurent Verdier en Pixabay