Prof. Dr. Thomas von Danwitz
Judge at the European Court of Justice
DAAD Scholarship 1989–1990
Europe is close to his heart – both professionally and personally. Early on in his legal career, Thomas von Danwitz committed himself to the development towards a single Europe. His efforts culminated in his appointment as the German Judge at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg in October 2006. The ECJ is the highest European court and consists of 25 judges and 8 advocates general who are elected for a period of six years by mutual agreement of the member states. After leaving school, Thomas von Danwitz, who was born in 1962, read law, politics and modern history at the universities of Bonn and Geneva from 1981 to 1986. After completing his doctorate in law in Bonn in 1988, he was granted a DAAD scholarship that enabled him to go to the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in Paris. He graduated from there with a Diplôme international d'administration publique in 1990. His time at the ENA included work placements with the Governor of the Department of the Haute-Marne, the Conseil d'État, the Supreme Administrative Court, and the cabinet of the French Judge at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
My time at the ENA opened up fabulous opportunities for me. The legal knowledge I acquired was truly enriching, the practical experience of administrative work most impressive, and the enduring personal impressions and friendships remain unforgotten.
Thomas von Danwitz completed his habilitation thesis (qualifying him as a professor) at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Bonn University in 1996 and was appointed to professor of public law and European law at the Ruhr University Bochum in the same year. He also became director of the Institute of German and European Environmental Law and director of the Institute for Mining and Energy Law at Bochum. In the 2000–2001 academic year he took up a visiting professorship at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, USA.
He accepted an offer from Cologne University, where he began working on 1 March 2003. In the city on the Rhine he was initially active at the Institute of Media and Communications Law. Then, in April 2006, he was offered the chair of public law, European law, law of economic constitution and economic administration. He was also made director of the Institute of Public Law and Administration.
In addition to this, Thomas von Danwitz is committed to strengthening Franco-German relations. He cooperates with the ENA and has held visiting professorships at Tours and Paris, where he taught future French lawyers. His efforts to promote Franco-German relations earned him the French Order of Merit in 2004. In 2010 Danwitz was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Université François Rabelais de Tours.
Since 2006, Thomas von Danwitz’s duties at the European Court of Justice have included deciding, together with his colleagues, whether national laws comply with European law and making sure that European law is properly applied by the member states.