The all-powerful Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) must ‘tighten its belt’ as taxpayers are doing throughout the EU, a House of Lords committee heard yesterday.

But the court must also work to reduce its backlog of cases, the committee was told.

The major issue, the Justice, Institutions and Consumer Protection EU Sub-Committee heard, was the appointment of three more judges or advocates general to help handle the court’s workload. Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, each of the 27 member states - irrespective of population or economic strength - has one judge sitting at the CJEU.

Appearing before the committee, David Lidington, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister for Europe, said that simply appointing three more judges would contravene the treaty’s terms because each of the 27 member states should be treated equally, with the same number of judges.

Proposals to appoint ‘purely upon merit’ have proved contentious, as have proposals to appoint from the largest economies, he said.

Lithuania, which assumes the presidency of the EU in the second half of this year, has not signalled its willingness to change the ‘political reality’ of each member state having the same number of judges, Lidington added.