EU Lawmakers OK Filter to Ease High Court Logjam

In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo, a man walks by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

(CN) – European Union lawmakers greenlighted an overhaul at the European Court of Justice on Tuesday, aimed at reducing the number of “repeater” cases filed in a court that has for years struggled to make a dent in its docket backlog.

The Council of the European Union agreed to a filtering mechanism for appeals brought before the EU’s highest court that stem from decisions made by several EU agencies and departments.

Appeals brought in cases which have already been considered twice, first by an independent board of appeal and then by the European General Court, will not proceed to the Court of Justice unless “they raise an issue that is significant with respect to the unity, consistency or development of EU law,” the council said in a statement.

The new rules will apply to appeals of decisions made by the EU’s intellectual property office, the plant variety office, the European Chemicals Agency and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

“The improved rules will facilitate the work of the Court of Justice of the EU by introducing a filtering mechanism for identifying appeals that merit examination, thus allowing the court to concentrate on its core business,” said George Ciamba, Romanian minister delegate for European affairs. “The Court of Justice is overburdened and must prioritize. This decision will increase efficiency and enhance legal protection in the EU.”

Several EU departments signed off on the new rules, including the Court of Justice, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the council.

The EU’s courts have been stymied by backlogs for years, though help has come through a judicial reform package passed in 2015 and ongoing efforts to appoint more judges.

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