EU judges turn down Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri

Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri has been turned down by judges evaluating his nomination for Malta’s second judge to the Court of First Instance

Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri. Photo: Ray Attard
Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri. Photo: Ray Attard

Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri has ‘flunked’ an oral examination for his bid to become Malta’s second judge in the General Court of the European Court of Justice, in Luxembourg.

Camilleri was nominated to serve as Malta’s second judge to the EU General Court, after being selected by an evaluation board.

Camilleri was selected after having applied for the post of to the General Court, formerly known as the Court of First Instance in the European Court of Justice, which is situated in Luxembourg.

The evaluation board that selected Camilleri was presided by Ena Cremona, Malta's first judge in the General Court.

Camilleri had to get the green light from a panel of EU judges who would have tested his suitability for the post, particularly his experience in EU legislation.

All appointments are made after consulting a panel of retired ECJ judges and senior EU law experts, as well as the Court’s president, who give an opinion on candidates’ suitability. The workings of the Court of Justice are conducted in French and member states are expected to nominate persons with sufficient experience and knowledge to be able to perform their duty at European Union level.

A second candidate will now have to be nominated by the justice minister for the post.

For Malta’s justice system, it means Silvio Camilleri will return to his post as Chief Justice. His departure would have opened up a crucial vacancy for Malta’s judiciary – a sensitive post for any government.

Camilleri, a former attorney general, was appointed chief justice in 2010 after Vincent de Gaetano was nominated to the European Court of Human Rights. He was an ‘outsider’ candidate catapulted to the top post without having been a member of the judiciary.
Camilleri is 63 in April, when he will be two years away from official retirement as chief justice. He might still be a possible candidate for successor of Malta’s sitting judge in the EU’s court of justice, Anthony Borg Barthet, who is expected to step down in 2018.

The ECJ’s inferior court mainly handles private cases.

The Court of Justice is composed of 27 judges and eight advocates-general, while the General Court is made up of at least one judge from each member state

Eugène Buttigieg is currently a judge in the General Court, serving his second mandate until 2019.

Following a decision to increase the number of judges in order to tackle a backlog of cases, each member state will have the right to nominate another judge.

EU judges are paid €220,000 a year excluding allowances.

The addition of 28 new judges is expected to cost taxpayers about €23 million a year, an increase of 6.6 per cent over the €350 million annual budget of the Luxembourg court.
Current judge Anthony Borg Barthet was a former attorney general under whom Camilleri served. He was reappointed to the ECJ in 2006 for a six-year term, and again in 2012.

A panel of experts had also turned down the nomination of judge Joseph Filletti for the General Court that same year.

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