Best Speaker Report 2015

Bilyana Manova

When I first applied for the CEEMC team of Sofia Univesity “St. Kliment Ohridsky”, I did not know much about the competition nor the work it would entail, so it was, in a way, a shot in the dark. I could not imagine that I would have such incredible coaches and team-mates, that I would learn so much about EU law and presentation skills and that the few days of the competition would be so challenging and exciting. I did not expect that I would visit such an extraordinary place as Tbilisi, Georgia, let alone that I would be awarded a Best Speaker Prize and a one-week visit to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The trip to Luxembourg was for me a dream coming true as I had always been interested in European Union law. Not only was I given the chance to visit the seat of the Court of Justice of the EU, but I had an internship in the Chambers of Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston, an absolute professional whose Opinion’s had contributed so much to the recent developments in the CJEU case law and whose work I had come to admire during the preparation for the competition.

I discovered that Luxembourg has a lot to offer to a visitor. Situated in the very heart of Western Europe, Luxembourg is, at present, the world’s only remaining grand duchy. It was equally interesting to find out that the country has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German. The city of Luxembourg is lovely, especially the castle, the breathtaking sites on the narrow valleys of the rivers and the bridges that cross them.

During my stay, I was very lucky to share a room at the hotel with a student from Georgia who had won the other Best Speaker prize – Mariam Moseshvili. I was really interested to learn from her about the law studies at her university in Georgia and the opportunities for young lawyers there. Most importantly, she was great company.

Ms Wimmer then led me to the seventh floor to AG Sharpston’s Cabinet where I met her four referendaires – Mr Alan Baillie, Mr Stanislas Adam, Ms Margaret Doyin and Ms Isabelle Van Damme. I had short conversations with them during which they explained to me how the work in their team is organized and how the cases are distributed between them. I was impressed by the great number of cases each Advocate General needs to deal with.

I was given my tasks by Mr Stanislas Adam. The first day I spent the afternoon getting acquainted with a case he was currently working on that concerned state aids. I read the preliminary report and the observations of the parties which proved to be particularly useful as, on the next morning, I attended the Hearing on the same case in the Grand Chamber. That was a great possibility to compare it with my own moot court experience and I was surprised to see how close the competition was to the real hearing.12087615_10205623783899320_1014244496_n

The few next days I spent doing a more in-depth research on another case which concerned two EU Directives on the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading. I was also encouraged by Mr Adam to present my observations on the case. Although it took me a lot of reading and effort to understand the questions, the issues turned out to be extremely interesting in the end. I spent most of my time reading in the gorgeous library of the Court which had three floors and a remarkable amount of literature, legislation and articles on EU law, international law and the national legislation of each Member State. It was rather funny to find amongst them the shelves dedicated to Bulgarian law and the same textbooks that we use in my university.

I was in the Court during a very eventful week as the elections for a new President of the Court were taking place, as well as the celebrations for the 1000th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. I was able to see the original document which was in the Court at that time. I was very grateful to attend AG Sharpston’s weekly meeting with her team on Wednesday during which they discussed the progress on different cases and how it would be best to organize their work. As it was Ms Doyin’s birthday that day, we even shared a bottle of champagne and a casual conversation.

I met the other interns who were doing long internships for lunch at the amazing cafeteria and this was a great opportunity to learn more about the work they were doing for the different judges and Advocate Generals. I was extremely happy to make the acquaintance of AG Sharpston’s long-term intern Niall Mac Cochláin who was super friendly and helped me immensely with the work on my case. And on the last day of my visit, I had the honor of meeting AG Sharpston for a very pleasant conversation, during which she told me some more about her work as an Advocate General and answered the questions I had. Once again, I was impressed by her perfectionism and her attitude towards her work.

All in all, my short stay in Luxembourg was extremely motivational and I left full of enthusiasm to do great work. Participating in CEEMC turned out to be one of the best choices I have ever done. I recommend the competition to all law students as it is a very rewarding experience! And I want to express my gratitude to my university, my coaches and my team, to AG Sharpston’s Cabinet for welcoming me, and of course to everyone who participated in the organization of CEEMC for making this adventure possible.