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School of Law

The Contribution of the General Court to the Rule of Law in the EU

5 February 2020

The Jean Monnet Network EUPLANT welcomed Judge Geert De Baere (Court of Justice of the European Union) for a lecture on 'The Contribution of the General Court to the Rule of Law in the EU'. The lecture was co-organised by the Centre for European and International Legal Affairs (CEILA) and constitutes the annual lecture of the Double Degree in English and French Law.


Watch the lecture from Judge Geert De Baere.


In its seminal 1986 judgment in Les Verts, the Court of Justice first affirmed the principle that the Union is a Union ‘based on the rule of law, inasmuch as neither its Member States nor its institutions can avoid a review of the question whether the measures adopted by them are in conformity with the basic constitutional charter, the Treaty’. While the role of the Court of Justice in that regard is well known, and has become ever more prominent in the light of recent high profile cases on the rule of law in the Member States, the contribution of the General Court to the rule of law within the Union is less frequently studied. I propose to take a closer look at what that contribution could be, starting from the premise that the Court of First Instance (as the General Court was called before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon), was established precisely in order to reinforce judicial protection within the Union, by establishing a two-tier court system for actions requiring a thorough examination of complex facts, and allowing the Court of Justice to focus on its essential task: the uniform interpretation of Union law. I suggest that this same logic underlies the recent reform of the General Court, and is likely to lead to further reforms of the EU system of judicial protection in the foreseeable future.

Speaker Bio

Judge Geert De Baere

Born 1979; lic. iuris (University of Antwerp, 2002); LL.M. (2003) and PhD (2007) (King’s College, University of Cambridge); Visiting Research Fellow at Columbia Law School (2005); Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Antwerp (2007-09); Visiting Professor (2009), subsequently Assistant Professor (2010-14) and Associate Professor (from 2015) in EU law and international law at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven); Legal Secretary at the Court of Justice of the European Union in the chambers of Advocate General Sharpston (2007-09), subsequently of Judge Prechal (2016-17); Judge at the General Court since 4 October 2017.

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