The government has until the end of May to find a replacement for EU Judge Ena Cremona, who decided to call it a day two years before the termination of her mandate at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Sources close to the Luxembourg-based court told The Sunday Times that despite her wish to quit in September, Judge Cremona can only step down once a new Maltese judge is appointed.

“There is a whole process to follow and the Maltese government will have to send its nomination by the end of May latest, if Judge Cremona is to go back to Malta by September,” the sources said.

According to procedure, the appointment of a judge to serve at the European Court of Justice normally takes months to conclude. Following the official nomination by the member state, the nominee will have to be vetted by a group of experts and then rubber stamped by the EU Council composed of representatives from the 27 member states.

Judge Cremona was officially appointed in May 2004 and her term comes to an end in August 2013.

Contacted in Luxembourg, Judge Cremona, who will turn 75 this year, said she had informed both the Prime Minister and the President of the Court about her wish to retire in September.

“It was a great experience and I recommend it to any experienced lawyer. However, I think that at my age the time has come for me to retire,” she said.

News of her impending retirement has sparked an intense lobbying process in Malta among some experienced lawyers and judges. According to the rules, nominees will need a law degree and experience in European law.

The Sunday Times is informed that a number of lawyers involved in the political scene could be vying for the post, which comes with a financial package of around €220,000 per year plus benefits.