New EFTA Court Judge: ”A constant challenge is to maintain the homogeneity of European law throughout the EEA.”

Published 13-04-2018
Dr. jur Bernd Hammermann, who has been nominated by Liechtenstein, took the oath as a Judge of the EFTA Court on 9 April.
The EEA EFTA States have appointed Dr. jur. Bernd Hammermann as the Judge to the EFTA Court. Hammermann, who was nominated by Liechtenstein, took the oath as Judge of the EFTA Court on 9 April 2018. He succeeds Senior Judge, and former President, Carl Baudenbacher. He spoke to the EFTA Newsletter about his new position at the EFTA Court.
1. What is your motivation for taking up this position?
The question of European cooperation and integration has fascinated me ever since I began to study law. It was natural, therefore, that I chose a European Economic Area (EEA) related topic (the impact of EEA Law on Liechtenstein Company Law) for my doctoral thesis. My engagement with EEA law continued when I was involved in Liechtenstein’s preparations to join the EEA, between 1992 and 1995. These preparations laid the ground for years of practice  (1995 to 2005) when I was a College Member at the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). Becoming an EFTA Court Judge, and interpreting EEA law, will give me the opportunity to engage in another facet of a topic that I have pursued over my professional life.
2. You have ten years’ experience of being a College Member at the EFTA Surveillance Authority – in what way could this be beneficial to your new position?
At ESA I had the privilege of working together with people like Knut Almestad, Hannes Hafstein, and H.S.H. Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, to name but a few. All three were deeply involved in EEA negotiations, and in our daily work we strived to bring the spirit of the Agreement to life. In addition, I accumulated 10 years’ work experience on the practical application of EEA Law in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as the opportunity to learn fully about the Icelandic and Norwegian people and their cultures.
3. What are the strengths and challenges for the EFTA Court in the years to come?
As a ‘newcomer’ to the Court, my assessment can only be preliminary and is more the view of an outsider. First of all, comparing the EFTA Court’s standing of today to that of the early nineties one has to congratulate the representatives of the EFTA Court on their achievements. Maintaining this course will be important for the Court in the years to come. A further constant challenge is to maintain the homogeneity of European Law throughout the EEA.
4. Are there any areas of EEA Legislation that you wish to bring to the Court’s attention for interpretation?
The cases the Court addresses originate from outside the Court. Therefore, it is not a matter for the Court or me to set an agenda. Nevertheless, topics like the ongoing question with respect to keeping up the homogeneity between EU and EEA Law, the relationship between fundamental rights and EEA Law, or the application of specific secondary legislation, for example the new General Data Protection Regulation, are subjects related to my interests.
5. What would you like to see accomplished during your time as Judge at the EFTA Court?
Keeping in mind that I am appointed for the remainder of former President Carl Baudenbacher's term of office (until September 2019), my focus will be to get acquainted with the work of the EFTA Court as soon as possible and to contribute to decisions that will further strengthen the EEA for all of us.

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