On 23 June the Council, in its General Affairs formation, backed the proposal of the President of the Court of Justice to reform the General Court. If all goes according to plan the General Court will lose one of its main characteristics (comprising 1 judge per Member State) and transform into a mega Court with an estimated of 56 judges by 2019.
The idea of creating specialised courts (Lisbon Treaty) has been dismissed as it is considered to be more expensive and not fit for purpose namely coping with the increasing number of cases reaching the General Court which went from 600 in 2010 to 912 in 2014. The rapid pace of the caseload increase is likely to continue. For instance, nowadays a number of new cases related to the banking sector are reaching the General Court (following the completion of the Banking Union).
In a nutshell the reform consists in an increase of the number of judges by 21 in two steps and the merger of the Civil Service Tribunal with the General Court. In 2015 the number of judges would be increased by 12. In 2016, the seven posts of judges from the Civil Service Tribunal would be transferred to the General Court by a merger of the two courts. In 2019, the number of judges would increase by nine, bringing the total number of judges to 56.
The changes will be adopted by a Regulation amending Protocol No 3 on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the EU (currently undergoing legislative procedure).
The Council will now forward its first reading position to the European Parliament for a second reading.