The EuropeanCourt of Justice | EUNewsletter

EU institutions and bodies

While forming the European Union, its member-states partially gave away their national powers in order to establish a political community with a unified structure. There are currently seven official European institutions, which play different roles for the functioning and activities of the EU.

The European
Court of Justice

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The European Court of Justice of the European Communities (often referred to simply as ‘the Court’) ensures that EU legislation is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries, so that the law is equal for everyone. It has the power to settle legal disputes between EU member states, EU institutions, businesses and individuals. The Court is composed of one judge per member state. For the sake of efficiency, however, the Court usually sits as a “Grand Chamber” of just thirteen judges or in chambers of five or three judges. The Court is assisted by eight “advocates-general”. Their role is to present reasoned opinions on cases brought before the Court. The judges and advocates-general are appointed to the Court of Justice by joint agreement between the governments of EU member states. Each is appointed for a term of six years, which can be renewed. To help the Court of Justice cope with the large number of cases brought before it and to offer citizens better legal protection, a “Court of First Instance” was created in 1988. It is responsible for actions brought by private individuals, companies and some organisations. This court also has one judge from each EU country. The European Union Civil Service Tribunal, attached to the Court of First Instance, was established on 2nd December 2005. It adjudicates in disputes between the European Union and its civil service. This tribunal is composed of seven judges. The Court of Justice, the Court of First Instance and the Civil Service Tribunal each have a president chosen by their fellow judges to serve for a renewable term of three years.