"The Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, each within its jurisdiction, shall insure that in the interpretation and application of this treaty that the law is observed."
The Court of Justice of the European Union is composed of as many judges as there are Member States. At present it has twenty-seven judges assisted by eight advocates-general. The judges and advocates-general are appointed by common accord of the governments of the Member States and hold office for a renewable term of six years. They are chosen from legal experts whose independence is beyond doubt and who possess the qualifications required for appointment to the highest judicial offices in their respective countries or who are of recognized competence.
It has two principal functions: The first is to check whether instruments of the European institutions and of governments are compatible with the Treaties. The second is to pronounce, at the request of a national court, on the interpretation or the validity of provisions contained in Community law.
The Court of First Instance was set up in 1989 to strengthen the protection of individuals’ interests by introducing a second tier of judicial authority, allowing the Court of Justice of the European Union to concentrate on its basic task of ensuring the uniform interpretation and application of Community law. The CFI deals with all actions by individuals or firms against Community institutions. As of December 2009, the Court of First Instance is known as the General Court.