This symposium attended by the Presidents of the Constitutional Courts, the Supreme Courts and the Councils of State was organised by the ECJ. The objective of the symposium is to have an exchange of views on improving the preliminary ruling procedure. The programme of the symposium has been drawn up taking account of the analysis and suggestions in the report of the ‘Preliminary ruling procedures’ Working Group set up by our Association, which report was approved by both our association at the General Assembly in Warsaw and the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts. The report was the subject of Newsletter N° 20.


Mr. Skouris, President of the ECJ, introduced the symposium.

The symposium consisted of 4 sessions:

1st session: Should specific improvements be made or is it necessary to rethink the system as a whole?

Current state of the preliminary ruling procedure. What are the problems? The preliminary ruling procedure 20 years from now: can the system be retained or is it necessary to rethink it as a whole? e.g.: Should transfers on technical questions to the Court of First Instance be considered or should the preliminary ruling procedure remain within the sole jurisdiction of the Court of Justice? Should the scope of the procedure be limited to ‘constitutional’ questions? Should the number of courts entitled to refer questions to the Court of Justice be restricted?

Chairman: H. D. Tjeenk Willink, Vice-President of the Council of State of the Netherlands
Speakers: R. Piličiauskas, Vice-President of the Administrative Court of Lithuania, I. Griss, President of the Supreme Court of Austria, J.-M. Sauvé, Vice-President of the French Council of State

2nd session: Should references to the Court be limited to important questions?

Introduce an opinion procedure (in particular in respect of questions of law which are new, particularly difficult and raised in numerous cases)? Introduce a filtering system for references? Move towards a ‘CILFIT 2’ judgment, which is less restrictive?

Chairman: R. M. Gens de Moura Ramos, President of the Constitutional Court of Portugal
Speakers: V. Carbone, First President of the Court of Cassation of Italy, S. Biernat, Judge at the Constitutional Court of Poland, G. Ravarani, President of the Administrative Court and Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Luxembourg

3rd session: How can we reduce the time taken to dispose of a case?

Not request an Opinion where the question is of minor importance for Community law (more general issue)? Extend the possibility of deciding by order in cases of minor importance for the unity, coherence and development of Community law? Introduce a ‘green light’ system? Clarify the specific case of appeals against decisions of the referring court.

Chairman: T. Melchior, President of the Supreme Court of Denmark
Speakers: M. E. Casas Baamonde, President of the Constitutional Court of Spain, Lady Justice Arden, Judge at the Court of Appeal of England and Wales

4th session: How can cooperation with national courts be improved?

Good practice of national courts: exhaustive examination of cases, consultation of parties, clarity and brevity of questions, suggested answer with reasons, grouping of cases. Develop informal contacts between the referring court and the Court of Justice? Create ‘model’ reference forms? Publication of orders for reference: by whom and how? Continuing professional training of national judges in Community law. Creation of services with expertise in Community law?

Chairman: G. Panagiotopoulos, President of the Council of State of Greece
Speakers: I. Schmidt, President of the Federal Labour Court of Germany, K. Penchev, President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria, P. Hallberg, President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland

Hall d'entrée de l'Ancien Palais After the symposium a private preview of the photographic exhibition ‘Architecture of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts of the Member States of the European Union’ was held.