On 10 February 2017, the panel provided for by article 255 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union published its fourth activity report.
The panel's task is to give an opinion on candidates' suitability to perform the duties of judge and advocate-general of the Court of Justice and the General Court before the governments of the member states make the appointments.
It comprises seven persons chosen from among former members of the Court of Justice and the General Court, members of national supreme courts and lawyers of recognised competence, one of whom is proposed by the European Parliament. Since its creation in March 2010 it has been chaired by Mr Jean-Marc Sauvé, Deputy President of the Council of State of France.
This fourth report covers the panel's activities from 1 March 2014, when its membership was renewed, until the end of 2016. That period saw the partial renewal of members of the Court of Justice in 2015 and the partial renewal and reform of the General Court in 2016, which led to a very marked increase in the number of candidatures examined that year. Over the period covered by the fourth report, the panel delivered opinions on 64 candidatures for the offices of judge or advocate-general, of which 22 were for the Court of Justice and 42 for the General Court. Of those 64 candidatures, 36 related to first terms of office (8 for the Court of Justice and 28 for the General Court), which entailed extensive examination and hearings by the panel. Of the 36 opinions delivered, 6 were unfavourable and 30 were favourable.
The report not only gives account of the work of the panel but also clarifies the procedures established for examining candidatures and the panel's interpretation of the provisions it is required to apply.
The methods used to assess candidatures, defined in 2010, were supplemented in April 2014 by the adoption of a harmonised CV template containing a number of mandatory fields, relating in particular to the candidate's professional experience, educational background and academic career, language skills and motivation. The panel also asks candidates to present one to three sensitive legal cases which they have handled in their professional practice. Hearings of candidates are conducted in two stages: a 10-minute presentation by the candidate of the reasons for his or her candidature and a description of a legal case, followed by answers to questions from members of the panel.
Candidates are assessed against six sets of criteria: their legal expertise, the duration of their high-level professional experience in the field of law, their ability to perform the duties of a judge, their language skills, their aptitude for working in an international environment in which several legal systems are represented, and guarantees of their independence, impartiality, probity and integrity. The report gives details of the panel’s assessment with regard to these different aspects, while making clear that the candidatures are assessed on an overall basis.