Court of First Instance of the European Union

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Court of First Instance of the European Union

Court of First Instance of the European Communities (CFI) and the Treaties of the European Union

Description of Court of First Instance of the European Communities (CFI) provided by the European Union Commission: The CFI was set up in 1989 to strengthen the protection of individuals’ interests by introducing a second tier of judicial authority, allowing the Court of Justice of the European Communities to concentrate on its basic task of ensuring the uniform interpretation and application of Community law. The CFI is currently made up of twenty-five judges appointed by common accord of the Governments of the Member States to hold office for a renewable term of six years. A President is elected from among the judges.

The Treaty of Nice introduced greater flexibility for adapting the CFI’s statute, which can henceforth be amended by the Council acting unanimously at the request of the Court or of the Commission. To ease the workload of the Court of Justice, the Treaty of Nice also aimed to improve the distribution of responsibilities between the Court and the CFI, making the CFI the ordinary court for all direct actions (appeals against a decision, failure to act, damages, etc.), with the exception of those assigned to a judicial panel and those reserved for the Court of Justice.

The Treaty also provides for the creation, based on a right of initiative shared between the Court of Justice and the Commission, of judicial panels to examine at first instance certain types of actions in specific matters to relieve the burden on the CFI. Finally, the Nice Treaty provides for the possibility of conferring on the Court of First Instance the right to deliver preliminary rulings in certain specific areas. The European Constitution, which is in the process of ratification, changes the official name of the Court of First Instance to the “General Court”. In the future, the term “Court of Justice of the European Communities” will officially designate the two levels of jurisdiction taken together: the supreme body, now called the “Court of Justice” and the “General Court”. The Constitution also provides that specialised courts may be attached to the General Court, which will have at least one judge per Member State.

Court of First Instance of the European Union

See also Court of Justice of the European Communities in the European platform.

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