The “EU Public Interest Clinic Project” on Judicial Transparency

Partners: HEC-NYU EU Public Interest Clinic (“EU Public Interest Clinic”)

Client: Access Info Europe

Project aims: Collaborating with the EU Public Interest Clinic, the aim is to lodge a complaint with the European Ombudsman in relation to the lack of transparency surrounding the selection of justices of the European Court of Justice prepare and submit access to documents requests in various EU Member States.

Overview: Considering that some countries hold televised hearings when selecting justices for their supreme courts, there is an astonishing lack of transparency around the selection of candidates for the Courts of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). Every time a judge is to be appointed to the CJEU, a special panel (“255 Committee”) comprised of former judges issues an opinion on the suitability of the candidate. This opinion (“255 Opinion”) is not released to the public and is only communicated to the Member States. In 2014, the EU Public Interest Clinic students used the EU access to documents regime to try to get hold of these opinions. The students were, however, rebuffed by the Council of the EU (which holds the opinions). In 2015, working for Access Info Europe, EU Public Interest Clinic students drafted a complaint to the EU Ombudsman. Simultaneously, LiA Project researchers drafted and requested access to the very same 255 Opinions at the national level via Member State access to document regimes (in Poland, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands).