Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-vsgnj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-22T13:29:52.289Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The European Court of Justice's Transformation of its Approach towards Preliminary References from Member State Administrative Bodies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2022

Morten BROBERG*
Affiliation:
University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law
Niels FENGER
Affiliation:
Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman
*
morten.broberg@jur.ku.dk (corresponding author)

Abstract

According to Article 267 TFEU, a ‘court or tribunal of a Member State’ can make a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice. The Court applies a single, homogeneous definition of a ‘court or tribunal’. This has allowed it to admit references from those specialised, independent, administrative bodies that in several Member States have been established instead of administrative courts to decide claims under public law, including EU law. Whether such a ‘dispute settling’ body is entitled to submit a preliminary reference normally depends upon whether it commands sufficient ‘independence’ vis-à-vis both the parties to the dispute and the public administration as such. The Court has tightened these requirements appreciably in connection with the threats against the independence of the judiciary in some Member States, and the consequent more prominent roles that Articles 19 TEU and 47 of the Charter have come to play. Whereas safeguarding the rule of law is of utmost importance, these provisions pursue objectives within the Union's legal order which are materially different from those pursued by Article 267. In this article, it is therefore argued that the Court should apply different constructions of the independence criterion with respect to these provisions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Centre for European Legal Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 NMI Technologietransfer, C-516/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:754, para 44.

2 Vaassen-Göbbels, 61/65, ECLI:EU:C:1966:39.

3 See similarly with regard to private professional disciplinary bodies, Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, concerning a preliminary reference from the Polish Sąd Dyscyplinarny Izby Adwokackiej w Warszawie (Bar Association Disciplinary Court, Warsaw).

4 By way of illustration, in Consorci Sanitari del Maresme, C-203/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:664, para 17, the Court of Justice ruled that ‘even though … the Tribunal Català de Contractes del Sector Públic is regarded under Spanish law as an administrative body, that fact is not, in itself, conclusive for the purpose of the Court's assessment’, and in N, C-46/12, ECLI:EU:C:2013:97, the Court answered a preliminary question from a Danish Administrative Appeals board which undoubtedly was (and still is) considered an administrative body under Danish Law. See also Broberg, M and Fenger, N, Preliminary References to the European Court of Justice, 3rd ed (Oxford University Press, 2021), ch 3CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 See Broberg, M, ‘Preliminary References by Public Administrative Bodies: When Are Public Administrative Bodies Competent to Make Preliminary References to the European Court of Justice?’ (2009) 15 European Public Law 207CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 In 1994, the criterion that the main action before the referring court must concern a dispute irrespective of this entity's organisational characteristics was laid down in Job Centre, C-111/94, ECLI:EU:C:1995:340.

7 See, for example, Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, paras 36–37.

8 Consoci Sanitari del Maresme, C-203/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:664, para 18 and the Opinion of the Advocate General in the same case at pts 21–22.

9 Dorsch Consult Ingenieursgesellschaft, C-54/96, ECLI:EU:C:1997:413, paras 24–25.

10 Dorsch Consult Ingenieursgesellschaft, C-54/96, ECLI:EU:C:1997:413, paras 27–29; Felix Swoboda, C-411/00, ECLI:EU:C:2002:660, paras 24–28.

11 Emmeci, C-427/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2121, paras 25, 30–31.

12 Cafom and Samsung, C-161/03, ECLI:EU:C:2003:413, para 15.

13 Consoci Sanitari del Maresme, C-203/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:664, paras 22–25; Montte, C-546/16, ECLI:EU:C:2018:752, paras 23–25; Ascendi Beiras Litoral e Alta, C-377/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:1754, paras 27–29; Emanuel, C-259/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:215, paras 21–22; and MT Højgaard, C-396/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:347, pts 32–33 in the Advocate General's Opinion. Compare, however, with Emmeci, C-427/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2121, paras 27–29, where the Italian ‘Autorità per la Vigilanza sui Contratti pubblici di lavori, servizi e furniture’ was found not to constitute a ‘court or tribunal’ within the meaning of Article 267, inter alia, even when a case was pending before the Autoritá, since the parties could instead decide to bring the matter before the ordinary courts.

14 Governo Della Repubblica Italiana, C-658/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:572, para 63; De Coster, C-17/00, ECLI:EU:C:2001:651, para 14; Dorsch Consult Ingenieursgesellschaft, C-54/96, ECLI:EU:C:1997:413, para 31.

15 Glencore Agriculture Hungary, C-189/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:861, para 18; Sacko, C-348/16, ECLI:EU:C:2017:591, paras 33–34; M, C-560/14, ECLI:EU:C:2017:101, para 25.

16 Almelo, C-393/92, ECLI:EU:C:1994:171, paras 23–24.

17 Dorsch Consult Ingenieursgesellschaft, C-54/96, ECLI:EU:C:1997:413, para 33.

18 Secretaria Regional de Saúde dos Açores, C-102/17, ECLI:EU:C:2018:294, paras 33–38; Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, paras 55, 57–58. For an application of the criterion in relation to entities that are clearly courts in the ordinary sense of the word, see IR, C-649/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:75, paras 33–40.

19 ANAS, C-192/98, ECLI:EU:C:1999:589. See also Secretaria Regional de Saúde dos Açores, C-102/17, ECLI:EU:C:2018:294, para 32, compare with Romeo, C-313/12, ECLI:EU:C:2013:718, where the Italian Court of Auditors performed judicial functions and hence the reference was admissible.

20 Victoria Film, C-134/97, ECLI:EU:C:1998:535, paras 12–19. See also Roda Golf & Beach Resort, C-14/08, ECLI:EU:C:2009:395, paras 34–39; Bengtsson, C-344/09, ECLI:EU:C:2011:174, paras 20–23.

21 Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), C-195/06, ECLI:EU:C:2007:613, paras 18–22.

22 Giant, C-109/90, ECLI:EU:C:1991:126, where the Court did not even discuss its own jurisdiction in relation to the Belgian Bestendige Deputatie van de Provincieraad van Brabant.

23 For examples of where the Court found an administrative appeal body competent to refer, see LN, C-46/12, ECLI:EU:C:2013:97 (the Danish Student Grant Appeals Board); Umweltanwalt von Kärnten, C-205/08, ECLI:EU:C:2009:767, paras 34–39 (the Austrian Umweltsenat); Abrahamsson and Anderson, C-407/98, ECLI:EU:C:2000:367, paras 28–38 (the Swedish Universities Appeals Board); Jokela, C-9/97 and C-118/97, ECLI:EU:C:1998:497, paras 17–24 (the Finnish Rural Businesses Appeals Board); and Eddline El-Yassini, C-416/96, ECLI:EU:C:1999:107, paras 16–22 (The UK Immigration Adjudicator).

24 For examples of the Court of Justice admitting preliminary references from public procurement complaints boards, see Montte, C-546/16, ECLI:EU:C:2018:752 (Administrative Board of Contract Appeals of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, Spain); Medisanus, C-296/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:431 (State Public Procurement Tribunal, Slovenia); Hörmann Reisen, C-292/15, ECLI:EU:C:2016:817, paras 28–29 (Vergabekammer Südbayern, Germany); Consoci Sanitari del Maresme, C-203/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:664 (Catalan Public Sector Contracts Board, Spain); Bundesdruckerei, C-549/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2235 (Vergabekammer bei der Bezirksregierung Arnsberg, Germany); Felix Swoboda, C-411/00, ECLI:EU:C:2002:660 (the Austrian Federal Public Procurement Office); HI, C-92/00, ECLI:EU:C:2002:379 (the Public Procurement Review Chamber of the Vienna Region, Austria); Unitron Scandinavia and 3-S, C-275/98, ECLI:EU:C:1999:567 (Danish Procurement Review Board); and Dorsch Consult Ingenieursgesellschaft, C-54/96, ECLI:EU:C:1997:413 (German Federal Public Procurement Awards Supervisory Board).

25 Panicello, C-503/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:126, para 33; Wahl, N and Prete, L, ‘The Gatekeepers of Article 267 TFEU: On Jurisdiction and Admissibility of References for Preliminary Rulings’ (2018) 55 Common Market Law Review 511, p 528Google Scholar.

26 Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 44; MF 7, C-49/13, ECLI:EU:C:2013:767, para 18; Belov, C-394/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:48, para 47.

27 CityRail, C-453/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:341, paras 48–49, 55–61, 66–67; Belov, C-394/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:48, para 47.

28 Belov, C-394/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:48, para 48.

29 Anesco, C-462/19 ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 45; Syfait, C-53/03, ECLI:EU:C:2005:333, paras 34–36.

30 CityRail, C-453/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:341, paras 59–61.

31 Ibid, paras 68–70; Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 50; Belov, C-394/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:48, para 47. In other cases, the very same aspect has been taken up by the Court under the heading of the independence of the body concerned as shown in Section IV.B.7 below.

32 Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 47; Belov, C-394/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:48, para 50.

33 Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 48; Panicello, C-503/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:126, para 34; Epitropos tou Elegktikou Synedriou, C-363/11, ECLI:EU:C:2012:825, paras 27–28.

34 Panicello, C-503/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:126, para 34.

35 Torresi, C-58/13 and C-59/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2088, para 27.

36 Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 49.

37 Panicello, C-503/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:126, para 28; Forposta, C-465/11, ECLI:EU:C:2012:801, paras 16–18; Belov, C-394/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:48, paras 40–51. See also Epitropos tou Elegktikou Synedriou, C-363/11, ECLI:EU:C:2012:825, paras 28, 33.

38 Opinion of Advocate General Stix-Hackl in Wilson, C-506/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:311, pt 45.

39 Opinion by Advocate General Gand in Vaassen-Göbbels, 61/65, ECLI:EU:C:1966:25. At page 281 of the Opinion, when considering whether the preliminary reference from the Dutch Scheidsgerecht (Arbitration Tribunal) could be admitted, the Advocate General made the following observation: ‘It is thus composed of members who are entirely independent both of the Beambtenfonds and of its members’ (emphasis added). With particular regard to arbitration tribunals’ access to make preliminary references, see further section 4 in M Broberg and N Fenger, ‘The Law of Arbitration and EU Law – Like Oil and Water?’ European Investment Law and Arbitration Review (forthcoming, 2022).

40 Pretore di Salò v Persons unknown, 14/86, ECLI:EU:C:1987:275, para 7. See also Pardini v Ministero del Commercio con l'Estero, 338/85, ECLI:EU:C:1988:194, para 9.

41 According to Reyns, C, ‘Saving Judicial Independence: A Threat to the Preliminary Ruling Mechanism?' (2021) 17 European Constitutional Law Review 26, pp 29–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar, the original rationale behind the independence requirement in Article 267 was that the proceedings before the referring entity had to be judicial in nature, and since judges were independent, the referring entity would have to be independent. In other words, in her opinion, originally ‘independence’ was solely an attribute that the Court could use when establishing the character of a body that had made a preliminary reference.

42 Mickonytė, A, ‘Effects of the Rule-of-Law Crisis in the EU: Towards Centralization of the EU System of Judicial Protection’ (2019) 79 ZaöRV 815, pp 827–28Google Scholar), as well as Bonelli, M and Claes, M, ‘Judicial Serendipity: How Portuguese Judges Came to the Rescue of the Polish Judiciary’ (2018) 14 European Constitutional Law Review 622, pp 633, 638CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

43 Repubblika, C-896/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:311, para 51. It may be noted that Wilson, C-506/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:587, which was one of the first preliminary references spelling out in more detail what is meant by ‘independence’, was not about whether the referring entity was a ‘court or tribunal’ within the meaning of Article 267, but rather whether another entity fulfilled an independence-requirement relating to appeal procedures laid down in a directive.

44 Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, para 63; Prokuratura Rejonowa w Mińsku Mazowieckim and others, C-748/19 to C-754/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:931, paras 59–90; Governo Della Repubblica Italiana, C-658/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:572, para 46; Banco de Santander, C-274/14, ECLI:EU:C:2020:17, para 57; Wilson, C-506/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:587, paras 50–51. See also Commission v Poland (Disciplinary Regime for Judges), C-791/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:596 where the Court of Justice found that Poland had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 267(2) and (3) by allowing the right of Polish courts and tribunals to submit requests for a preliminary ruling to the Court to be restricted by the possibility of triggering disciplinary proceedings.

45 Governo Della Repubblica Italiana, C-658/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:572, para 50; and Banco de Santander, C-274/14, ECLI:EU:C:2020:17, para 61.

46 The European Court of Human Rights distinguishes between subjective and objective impartiality. Somewhat similar to the Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights finds that the concepts of independence and objective impartiality are closely linked and, depending on the circumstances, may require joint examination. See for example judgment of 6 November 2018, Ramos Nunes de Carvalho e Sá v. Portugal, CE:ECHR:2018:1106JUD005539113, para 150.

47 See for example Getin Noble Bank, C-132/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:100 as well as the Opinion by Advocate General Bobek in Getin Noble Bank, C-132/20, ECLI:EU:C:2021:557, pts 75–79.

48 Land Hessen, C-272/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:535, para 54.

49 Wilson, C-506/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:587, paras 54–58. However, see also Torresi, C-58/13 and C-59/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2088, para 24, where the Court of Justice found it sufficient that it was ‘standard practice’ that a member of a controlling administrative body did not take part as a member of this body in a situation where this member would be in a clear conflict of interest vis-à-vis the entity that was to be controlled.

50 See, implicitly, De Coster, C-17/00, ECLI:EU:C:2001:651, para 18, where the Court emphasised that this was not the case with regard to the referring body (Collège juridictionnel de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale). See also Air Serbia and Kondić, C-476/16, ECLI:EU:C:2017:874, para 23.

51 Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, paras 69–70.

52 Jokela, C-9/97 and C-118/97, ECLI:EU:C:1998:497, para 20.

53 See similarly Advocate General Saggio in his Opinion in Köllensperger and Atzwanger, C-103/97, ECLI:EU:C:1999:52, pt 18.

54 In Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, para 65, ‘length of service’ was mentioned as relevant for determining whether a referring entity is guaranteed independence and impartiality.

55 Eddline El-Yassini, C-416/96, ECLI:EU:C:1999:107, para 21.

56 Governo Della Repubblica Italiana (Status of Italian Magistrates), C-658/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:572 para 53; Consoci Sanitari del Maresme, C-203/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:664, para 20 (compare with point 30 in the Advocate General's Opinion in the same case); Häupl, C-246/05, ECLI:EU:C:2007:340, para 18; HI, C-92/00, ECLI:EU:C:2002:379, paras 9, 27.

57 See similarly the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law), The Composition of Constitutional Courts, CDL-STD(1997)020 (December 1997), p 15: ‘The possibility of re-election may well be such as to undermine the independence of a judge. In order to avoid this risk, it appears advisable to provide for long terms of office or for appointment until retirement’.

58 However, considering that the members of the Court of Justice are themselves subject to re-appointment, it would seem somewhat awkward if they were to suggest that there could be a correlation between, on the one hand, the possibility of re-appointment and, on the other hand, lack of independence of a member of a dispute settling body.

59 Emanuel, C-259/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:215.

60 Broekmeulen, 246/80, ECLI:EU:C:1981:218. See also Bronner, C-7/97, ECLI:EU:C:1998:569 (two out of three of the referring entity's members were not lawyers).

61 Advocate General Jacobs in his Opinion in Syfait, C-53/03, ECLI:EU:C:2004:673, pts 26, 33, proposed attaching importance to how many of the appointees of the referring entity possess qualifications as lawyers.

62 Köllensperger and Atzwanger, C-103/97, ECLI:EU:C:1999:52, paras 19–25.

63 Abrahamsson and Anderson, C-407/98, ECLI:EU:C:1999:556, pts 19–20.

64 Abrahamsson and Anderson, C-407/98, ECLI:EU:C:2000:367, paras 36–38. The aspect of irremovability was not discussed in WestBahn Management, C-136/11, ECLI:EU:C:2012:740, paras 26–31, even though the members of the body were appointed by the Federal Ministry of Justice. Subsequently, in CityRail, C-453/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:341, the Court of Justice at paragraph 47 explained that in the WestBahn Management case it did not examine whether the referring body exercised functions of a judicial nature in the context of the proceedings that gave rise to that request because it only examined the criteria arising from the judgment of 30 June 1966, Vaassen-Göbbels. The most prominent example of the Court's older case law is Broekmeulen, 246/80, ECLI:EU:C:1981:218, where the Court held that “If, under the legal system of a Member State, the task of implementing such [EU-]provisions is assigned to a professional body acting under a degree of governmental supervision, and if that body, in conjunction with the public authorities concerned, creates appeal procedures which may affect the exercise of rights granted by [EU] law, it is imperative, in order to ensure the proper functioning of [EU] law, that the Court should have an opportunity of ruling on issues of interpretation and validity arising out of such proceedings.” Here, the governmental supervision was thus not seen as a threat to independence, but as a factor which linked the body to the State in a manner that spoke in favour of accepting this body as a ‘court or tribunal’ according to Article 267.

65 Air Serbia and Kondić, C-476/16, ECLI:EU:C:2017:874, paras 24–25; TDC, C-222/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2265, paras 33–36; MF 7, C-49/13, ECLI:EU:C:2013:767, paras 22–25; Pilato, C-109/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:274, paras 28–30; Schmid, C-516/99, ECLI:EU:C:2002:313, para 40.

66 Governo Della Repubblica Italiana, C-658/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:572, paras 48–49; Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586, para 66; Banco de Santander, C-274/14, ECLI:EU:C:2020:17, para 60. See also D A, C-175/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:45, paras 97–104, where, on the one hand, the Court required, inter alia, that dismissals of members of the referring body should be determined by express legislative provisions, but on the other hand, the Court accepted that the cases in which the members of the body could be removed from office were not defined precisely in the legislation and that the power to remove the members was vested in the office of the relevant Minister.

67 Asociaţia “Forumul Judecătorilor din România”, C-83/19, C-127/19, C-195/19, C-291/19, C-355/19 and C-397/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:393, paras 198, 206, 213, 219; European Commission v Poland, C-192/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:924, para 114; Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586, para 67. See also Miasto Łowicz and Prokurator Generalny, C-558/18 and C-563/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:234, paras 58–59, where the Court of Justice ruled that ‘[p]rovisions of national law which expose national judges to disciplinary proceedings as a result of the fact that they submitted a reference to the Court for a preliminary ruling cannot … be permitted’.

68 Gabalfrisa, C-110/98 to C-147/98, ECLI:EU:C:2000:145, para 23.

69 Banco de Santander, C-274/14, ECLI:EU:C:2020:17, paras 53–77. See also the case summary of Banco de Santander in Section IV.B.5 below.

70 MT Højgaard, C-396/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:347, paras 27–32. See similarly Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, paras 71 ff, regarding professional disciplinary bodies.

71 Land Hessen, C-272/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:535, paras 47–49.

72 Openbaar Ministerie, C-354 PPU and C-412/20 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2020:1033, para 49; Repubblika, C-896/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:311, para 55; Országos Idegenrendészeti Főigazgatóság Dél – Alföldi Regionális Igazgatóság, C-924/19 PPU and C-925/19 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2020:367, paras 132–35.

73 The same applies to local authorities. See Município de Barcelos, C-408/09, ECLI:EU:C:2010:77, paras 6–8.

74 Pilato, C-109/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:274, paras 27–30.

75 Banco de Santander, C-274/14, ECLI:EU:C:2020:17, paras 72–77. The ruling in Banco Santander has subsequently been distinguished in Minister Sprawiedliwości, C-55/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:6, paras 72–78.

76 By contrast, if national law provided for means of instruction or ex post control from the administration, the Court would render the preliminary reference inadmissible. See for example Corbiau v Administration des contributions, C-24/92, ECLI:EU:C:1993:118, paras 15–17; Epitropos tou Elegktikou Synedriou, C-363/11, ECLI:EU:C:2012:825, paras 21–25.

77 Köllensperger and Atzwanger, C-103/97, ECLI:EU:C:1999:52, para 24. See also Dorsch Consult Ingenieursgesellschaft, C-54/96, ECLI:EU:C:1997:413, paras 34–38. See moreover, Asociación Española de Banca Privada, C-67/91, ECLI:EU:C:1992:330, where the Advocate General discussed whether the referring Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia, that administratively formed part of the Spanish Ministry of Trade, was sufficiently independent. In its ruling, the Court of Justice did not consider the matter, however.

78 Nidera Handelscompagnie, C-385/09, ECLI:EU:C:2010:627, para 38.

79 Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586, para 65; Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, C-64/16, ECLI:EU:C:2018:117, paras 43–45; Panicello, C-503/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:126, paras 37–43; Devillers, C-167/13, ECLI:EU:C:2013:804.

80 Repubblika, C-896/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:311, para 55; AB, C-824/18, ECLI:EU:C:2021:153, para 119. See also Section IV.C below as well as European Commission v Poland, C-619/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:531, para 112.

81 Syfait, C-53/03, ECLI:EU:C:2005:333, para 30.

82 Repubblika, C-896/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:311, para 51; AB, C-824/18, ECLI:EU:C:2021:153, para 118; AK, C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:982, para 124. As illustrated by Panicello, C-503/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:126, paras 41–42, the independence criterion is not only relevant in relation to instructions from the executive branch, but also with regard to instructions from a hierarchical superior within the same administrative institution. Thus, with regard to Article 267 the Court of Justice is not only occupied with impartiality vis-à-vis the parties to the proceedings and the executive branch, but also with the internal independence of the judge in relation to other actors in the referring entity's own administration.

83 See for example MT Højgaard, C-396/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:347, para 26.

84 Syfait, C-53/03, ECLI:EU:C:2005:333, paras 29–37. See also Schmid, C-516/99, ECLI:EU:C:2002:313, paras 34–44; RTL Belgium, C-517/09, ECLI:EU:C:2010:821, paras 31–49; Epitropos tou Elegktikou Synedriou, C-363/11, ECLI:EU:C:2012:825, paras 23–25.

85 See in this respect with regard to situations where the body itself can (or must) join the appeal proceedings: Anesco, C-462/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:715, para 50; TDC, C-222/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2265, para 37; MF 7, C-49/13, ECLI:EU:C:2013:767, para 19; Corbiau, C-24/92, ECLI:EU:C:1993:118, para 16. Compare, however, WESTbahn Management, C-210/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:586, where the Court of Justice admitted a preliminary reference from the Austrian Schienen-Control Kommission even though the Schienen-Control Kommission becomes an intervener if its decision is appealed to the Austrian Verwaltungsgerichtshof (as explained in communication from the Schienen-Control Kommission to the authors, and as, indeed, reflected in ÖBB-Personenverkehr, C-509/11, ECLI:EU:C:2013:613). For examples of cases where the parties in an appeal case would be the same as those which appeared before the administrative dispute settling body, see MT Højgaard, C-396/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:347, para 25; Torresi, C-58/13 and C-59/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2088, para 23.

86 K Lenarts, ‘New Horizons for the Rule of Law Within the EU’ (2020) 21 German Law Journal 29, p 31.

87 Read together with Article 2 TEU.

88 Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586, paras 50–54. See also Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, C-64/16, ECLI:EU:C:2018:117, paras 34–38, 42–43 (where the Court explicitly link up the ‘independence criterion’ in Article 19 TEU, Article 47 of the Charter, and Article 267 TFEU), as well as Escribano Vindel, C-49/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:106, paras 62–65.

89 European Commission v Poland, C-619/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:531, paras 72–73; European Commission v Poland, C-192/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:924, paras 108–10.

90 Online Games and others, C-685/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:452, paras 60–62; Országos Idegenrendészeti Főigazgatóság Dél – Alföldi Regionális Igazgatóság, C-924/19 PPU and C-925/19 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2020:367, paras 109–41.

91 The Court of Justice's case law in this regard ultimately draws upon the European Court of Human Rights’ case law concerning Article 6 ECHR as is particularly clear from AK, C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:982, paras 126–45 (with several references to the Strasbourg Court's case law).

92 Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586, paras 50–54; Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, C-64/16, ECLI:EU:C:2018:117, paras 34–38, 42–43; Escribano Vindel, C-49/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:106. See in this respect also Leloup, M, ‘The Appointment of Judges and the Right to a Tribunal Established by Law: The ECJ Tightens Its Grip on Issues of Domestic Judicial Organization: Review Simpson’ (2020) 57 Common Market Law Review 1139, pp 1157CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 1161, as well as Krajewski, M and Ziółkowski, M, ‘EU Judicial Independence Decentralized: AK’ (2020) 57 Common Market Law Review 1107, p 1119CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

93 Indeed, when deciding cases concerning one of the three provisions, the Court frequently will also refer to one or both of the other two provisions.

94 See in this respect also P Andrés Sáenz de Santa Maria, ‘Rule of Law and Judicial Independence in the Light of CJEU and ECtHR Case Law’, in C Izquierdo-Sans, C Martínez-Capdevila, and M Nogueira-Guastavino (eds), Fundamental Rights Challenges Horizontal Effectiveness, Rule of Law and Margin of National Appreciation (Springer, 2021), p 180; and M Broberg, ‘Preliminary References as a Means for Enforcing EU law’ in A Jakab and D Kochenov (eds), The Enforcement of EU Law and Values: Ensuring Member States’ Compliance (Oxford University Press, 2017), p 99.

95 Particularly in Sections IV.B.2, IV.B.4, IV.B.5, and IV.B.6.

96 Banco de Santander, C-274/14, ECLI:EU:C:2020:17, para 69. See also Repubblika v Il-Prim Ministru, C-896/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:311, para 51; L and P, C-354/20 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2020:1033, para 49; UX v Governo della Repubblica italiana, C-658/18, ECLI:EU:C:2020:572, paras 42–57; Land Hessen, C-272/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:535, para 52.

97 See Section IV.B.2.

98 Asociaţia “Forumul Judecătorilor din România”, C-83/19, C-127/19, C-195/19, C-291/19, C-355/19, and C-397/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:393, paras 186–207; European Commission v Poland, C-192/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:924, paras 119–24.

99 Asociaţia “Forumul Judecătorilor din România”, C-83/19, C-127/19, C-195/19, C-291/19, C-355/19, and C-397/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:393, para 191.

100 Lenaerts, K, ‘Upholding the Rule of Law through Judicial Dialogue’ (2019) 38 Yearbook of European Law 3, p 4Google Scholar.

101 Lenaerts, K, ‘On Judicial Independence and the Quest for National, Supranational and Transnational Justice’, in Selvik, G, Clifton, M, Haas, T, Lourenço, L, and Schwiesow, K (eds), The Art of Judicial Reasoning, Festschrift in Honour of Carl Baudenbacher (Springer, 2019), p 158Google Scholar. L Pech and S Platon, ‘How Not to Deal with Poland's Fake Judges Requests for a Preliminary Ruling: A Critical Analysis of AG Bobek's Proposal in Case C-132/20’, VerfBlog (2021 July 28), https://verfassungsblog.de/how-not-to-deal-with-polands-fake-judges-requests-for-a-preliminary-ruling, argue in favour of a uniform interpretation of the two sets of provisions, maintaining that if the Court of Justice does not adopt a uniform interpretation this will lead to situations where the Court would accept to answer questions from national referring entities, which the Court would find ‘established by law’ for the purpose of Article 267 but whose judgments could subsequently be challenged on the ground, inter alia, that they were issued by a ‘judge’ or a bench irregularly composed in breach of the ‘established by law’ requirement guaranteed under Articles 19 TEU and 47 of the Charter. Or, as the two authors observe, ‘you could end up with a body which is held by the ECJ to be enough of a “court” to submit questions to it but not enough of a “court” (due to e.g. not being established by law) to issue proper judgments as a matter of EU law and in particular, the principle of effective judicial protection’.

102 Compare with the Court of Justice's approach in Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586, as well as what has been set out in Section IV.C above.

103 See in this respect Consorzio, C-561/19, ECLI:EU:C:2021:799, para 46; CILFIT, 283/8, ECLI:EU:C:1982:335, para 20; and Broberg, M and Fenger, N, ‘If you Love Somebody Set Them Free: On the Court of Justice's Revision of the Acte Clair Doctrine’ (2022) 59 Common Market Law Review 711CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

104 See Openbaar Ministerie (Tribunal Established by Law in the Issuing Member State), C-562/21 PPU and C-563/21 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2022:100, paras 45–46; L P, C-354/20 PPU and C-412/20 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2020:1033; Minister for Justice and Equality, C-216/18 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2018:586. For the correlation between independence and mutual trust in this field of law, see Norkus, R, ‘Judicial Independence: A European and National Perspective’, in Barrett, G, Rageade, J-P, Wallis, D, and Weil, H (eds), The Future of Legal Europe: Will We Trust in It? (Springer, 2021), pp 617–19Google Scholar.

105 Getin Noble Bank, C-132/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:100, para 71; CILFIT, 283/81, ECLI:EU:C:1982:335, para 7. See also Bonelli and Claes, note 42 above, p 639.

106 AK (Independence of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court), C-585/18, C-624/18, and C-625/18, ECLI:EU:C:2019:551, pt 111. See also Advocate General Bobek in his Opinion in Getin Noble Bank, C-132/20, ECLI:EU:C:2021:557, pt 61, as well as in Pula Parking, C-551/15, ECLI:EU:C:2016:825, pts 100–13.

107 Reyns, note 41 above, pp 36–37.

108 By way of illustration, in Denmark cases concerning Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information will normally be dealt with by a special administrative appeal body in relation to environmental issues (and by the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman) and not by the ordinary courts.

109 Eesti Pagar, C-349/17, ECLI:EU:C:2019:172; para 90; Workplace Relations Commission, C-378/17, ECLI:EU:C:2018:979, para 38.

110 For a broadly similar view, see Advocate General Wahl in Torresi, C-58/13 and C-59/13, ECLI:EU:C:2014:265, pts 45–61. See also Zinonos, P, ‘Judicial Independence & National Judges in the Recent Case Law of the Court of Justice’ (2019) 25 European Public Law 615, p 621CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

111 Land Hessen, C-272/19, ECLI:EU:C:2020:535, para 45.

112 Ibid, para 46 (emphasis added). See also Openbaar Ministerie (Indépendance de l'autorité judiciaire d’émission), C-354/20 PPU and C-412/20 PPU, ECLI:EU:C:2020:1033, paras 42–44.

113 Getin Noble Bank, C-132/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:235, paras 69, 72; W J (Changement de résidence habituelle du créancier d'aliments), C-644/20, ECLI:EU:C:2022:371, paras 51–52.