AG Hogan delivered yesterday his opinion in case C‑896/19 (Repubblika v Il-Prim Ministru, joined party: WY), which is about judicial independence, the procedure for the appointment of judges and the power of the Prime Minister as well as the involvement of a judicial appointments committee. Should this opinion be endorsed by the Court of Justice, and taking into account other cases, the Court is slowing but surely putting EU Law at the heart of the MS judiciary’s organisational rules.
Opinion: “(1) The second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, is applicable when a national court is assessing the validity of a procedure for the appointment of judges such as that provided for by the Constitution of Malta.
(2) Article 19(1) TEU, interpreted in the light of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, does not preclude national constitutional provisions under which the executive power or one of its members, such as the Prime Minister, plays a role in the process of the appointment of members of the judiciary. While Article 19(1) TEU, interpreted in the light of Article 47 of the Charter, is not ex ante prescriptive either in terms of the particular conditions of appointment or the nature of the particular guarantees enjoyed by judges of the Member States, it does nonetheless require as a minimum that such judges enjoy guarantees of independence. What matters for the purposes of Article 19 TEU, is that judges must be free from any relationship of subordination or hierarchical control by either the executive or the legislature. Judges must enjoy financial autonomy from the executive and the legislature, so that their salaries are not impaired (otherwise than by generally applicable taxation or generally applicable and proportionate salary reduction measures) during their term of office. It is also important that they enjoy sufficient protection against removal from office, save for just cause and their disciplinary regime must include the necessary guarantees in order to prevent any risk of its being used as a system of political control of the content of judicial decisions.
(3) The procedure for the appointment of judges cannot be called into question under Article 19(1) TEU, interpreted in the light of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, in support of claims introduced before the date of the forthcoming judgment”.