OFFICE OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
DISCUSSION ON ECoJ REFORM
Nations of Europe,
One of the planks of my campaign several months ago was ECoJ reform. I would like, therefore, to present this first draft of an attempt at Constitutional reform to the regional judiciary. It serves to replace the entire ECoJ section of the Constitution, as well as some parts of the Case Procedures Act, which I believe should be focussed on the specific and more easily changeable detail on case procedures. My intention is to clearly define the ECoJ as a constitutional court, define what viable sanctions could be applied against an institution or member state found in breach of the Constitution, and streamline decision-making in the Court in order to avoid further travesties of inactivity. I would note that this current draft does not cover some wider aspects of ECoJ reform which, subject to discussion, might be worth pursuing. These include:
- The possible use of the ECoJ as a court of arbitration - I believe this would require Constitutional provision for things to arbitrate over, however, such as sovereignty and resource rights, trade, and so on. This, I believe, would be a worthy pursuit, if a more time-consuming one.
- The possible use of the ECoJ as a criminal court where no obvious national jurisdiction applies. This would, of course, require Constitutional provision for sovereignty and jurisdiction, and in that case I would much prefer the ECoJ simply arbitrate as to which member state would have jurisdiction.
- Other things which I haven't thought of thus far.
In any case, without further ado, here is my draft. Feel free to discuss it and the bullet points mentioned above, as well as anything else you might consider relevant.
ARTICLE IV – THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE
Section I – The European Court of Justice
I. The European Court of Justice is the constitutional court of the European Union.
II. The European Court of Justice comprises the Chief Justice, who presides over the Court, and two Associate Justices. No Justice may be from the same member state as the Premier Commissioner.
III. The European Court of Justice is responsible for reviewing the constitutionality of the laws and actions of the European institutions and the member states.
IV. The European Court of Justice is responsible for determining sanctions to be taken against any European institution or member state found guilty of contravening this Constitution, or any part thereof.
Section II – Elections to the European Court of Justice
I. The European Court of Justice shall be elected at the same time as the European Commission.
II. Any nation may put forward as many candidates as it wishes for the European Court of Justice, but only the most successful candidate from each nation is eligible for election.
III. The nomination period shall last seven days, or until at least six candidates from at least six different member states have been nominated. This shall be followed by a seven-day period in which a hearing for the candidates in the European Council shall be held, followed in turn by a seven-day period in which voting shall be held.
IV. Voters rank in order of preference as many candidates as they wish.
V. The three members of the next European Court of Justice shall be elected using the Single Transferable Vote system, using the Hagenbach-Bischoff Quota. Candidates who finish between fourth and sixth shall become Alternative Justices.
VI. The Chief Justice shall be elected from among the five successful candidates using the Alternative Vote system.
VII. In either system, ties shall be broken by determining the proportion of each candidate’s votes that are first preferences, with the candidate with the highest proportion winning the tie. If that is tied, the process shall be repeated for the next-highest preference. If the candidates are tied for all preferences, then the tie shall be broken by a coin toss.
VIII. The new European Court of Justice shall be sworn in and replace the outgoing Court the next day.
Section III – Absences and Alternate Justices
I. In addition to the three Justices, the European Court of Justice shall have three Alternate Justices, who in normal circumstances shall take no part in court proceedings, and shall exercise none of the powers of a Justice.
II. If a Justice recuses themselves from a case, they shall be replaced by an Alternate Justice for the duration of that case.
III. If a Justice is found to be absent during a case, they shall be replaced by an Alternate Justice for the duration of that case.
IV. If a vacancy arises on the European Court of Justice, the vacancy shall be temporarily filled by an Alternate Justice until a by-election is completed. By-elections follow the normal election procedures for the European Court of Justice.
V. If a vacancy arises among the Alternate Justices, a by-election shall be held to fill that vacancy.
VI. The most easily available Alternate Justice shall be the one called upon to fill a vacancy. If two or three Alternate Justices are equally available, then the one who finished the highest in the last election shall be called upon.
Section IV – Petitions, Warrants, and Injunctions
I. The European Court of Justice shall receive petitions accusing any European institutions or member states of contravening this Constitution, or any part thereof.
II. Any European institution, member state, organisation, or private citizen in the European Union may petition the European Court of Justice.
III. Any petition must state the charges to be brought against the respondent, and demonstrate that the appellant has standing.
IV. Any Justice may accept or reject a petition.
V. Any Justice may issue a warrant or injunction relating to a petition, or reject a request for a warrant or injunction in a petition.
VI. A Justice’s decision to accept or reject a petition, warrant, or injunction is subject to a 24-hour period where any other Justice may object to that decision. Should an objection be raised, the remaining Justice shall be called on to cast the tie-breaking vote. Should the remaining Justice decline to vote, or not vote in the following 24-hour period, the petition, warrant, or injunction shall be rejected.
Section V – Rights of the Respondent
I. After a petition is accepted, the case shall be heard at a time convenient to both the appellant and respondent.
II. The respondent shall be entitled to all the rights and protections of this Constitution throughout Court proceedings.
III. The respondent shall have the right to legal counsel, and the right to forgo legal counsel and represent themselves.
IV. The respondent shall have the right to remain silent.
V. The respondent or their attorney shall have the right to examine the appellant's petition and all evidence gathered against them, within reason.
VI. The respondent or their attorney shall have the right to call witnesses and cross-examine the appellant's witnesses.
VII. The respondent shall not be compelled to become a witness against themselves.
VIII. Evidence obtained illegally in the jurisdiction of its origin shall not be admitted.
IX. Questioning sessions shall not be of an unreasonable length of time.
Section VI – Verdicts and Sanctions
I. After the case has been closed, the Justices shall hold a preliminary vote determining their verdict.
II. One Justice in the majority shall then write the opinion of the Court, which will then be subject to a final majority vote. Other Justices may write concurring or dissenting opinions.
III. In the event that the Court has ruled that the respondent has acted unconstitutionally, the Court shall order that any unconstitutional laws or orders be disapplied, and that any unconstitutional actions or practices cease and desist immediately.
IV. The Court shall require that the respondent comply with the orders of the Court within a certain timeframe, and may specify sanctions to be applied against the respondent if they fail to adhere to this timeframe.
V. Sanctions may include the withholding of funding from the European Union budget, the withholding of any budgetary surplus money due to the respondent, or the suspension of some or all of the privileges and protections of this Constitution.
VI. Verdicts of the European Court of Justice shall be final and shall not be appealed.
I applaud the efforts of my honourable friend, the Commissioner for Internal Affairs. This reform is truly needed in an era where the European Court of Justice has been viewed as an irrelevant body and paralysed by inactivity.
Councillor for the United Kingdom of Great Britain