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HFHR’s appeal to increase the number of Advocates-General

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights reiterated its appeal to the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union expressing its concern about the Court’s failure to increase the number of Advocates-General. Regrettably, the HFHR has not yet received any response to its first letter raising the issue, sent on 10 march 2011.

Pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) the ECJ is assisted by eight Advocates-General. The number of AGs may be increased if the Court so requests. To this end, the CJEU has to move the European Council who makes a unanimous decision.

Due to the enlargement of the European Union by the twelve new Member States additional CJEU judges have been appointed. This, however, has not altered the number of Advocates-General.

The role of CJEU Advocates-General is crucial. They issue opinions in cases heard before the Court whenever a new, important legal issue arises. AGs present a detailed analysis of the case and, acting independently, propose the Court how a given legal issue should be decided, thus contributing to a complete and accurate resolution of the pending case.

Advocates-General are chosen from among persons whose independence and impartiality is beyond doubt and who possess the qualifications required for appointment to the highest judicial offices in their respective countries or who are jurisconsults of recognised competence.

Yet, the current number of Advocates-General prevents them from taking part in many key EU cases. Further, with the increasing role of the CJEU in the area of protection of fundamental rights, the need to increase the number of AGs is even more evident. This results, among other things, from the entry into force of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, reinforcing rights granted by EU citizenship and the increasing number of CJEU cases concerning anti-discriminatory measures.

The first appeal by the HFHR, dated 10 March 2011, was endorsed by Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, Viviene Reding, Vice-president of the European Commission, the Polish Human Rights Defender and the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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