This morning, Gil Carlos Rodríguez Iglesias passed away. The first Spanish judge at the Court of Justice and its President from 1994 to 2003, we sadly lose today a powerful intellect that inspired many European lawyers.
Gil Carlos was the first of a generation of young Spanish lawyers that excelled in the newly democratic Spain as a professor of public international law. First, at the University Complutense of Madrid, later in Extremadura and finally in Granada, where he held the chair of public international law until his departure in 1986 to Luxembourg. I remember during my years of study in Granada, when Gil Carlos was at the time President of the Court, that the mere mention of his name was like evoking a saint or a mythical god. Despite his time far away at the Plateau du Kirchberg, he never lost his links with Granada, his disciples and his friends. The school of international law of Granada remains one of the leading centers of European law in Spain, in part thanks to Gil Carlos’ commitment and efforts.
Gil Carlos was the last President of the pre-great accession Court. A modest but mighty judicial institution of fifteen judges only, soon to be profoundly transformed by the arrival of thirteen more. His style was modest and gentle, but he leaded the Court’s works with an iron fist still remembered to this day by many who shared their time at the Court with Gil Carlos.
After his tenure at the Court he returned to Spain, where he held the chair at the University Complutense of Madrid, the school of his doctoral and post-doctoral years. He was appointed director of the Real Instituto Elcano, Spain’s leading thinktank in international affairs, and presided the Spanish section of FIDE until 2015.
Gil Carlos was a giant of European law, a force of good and reason so badly needed in these turbulent times. We will miss the man, the judge, the professor and the dignity that he exemplified, but his legacy and memory will remain, hopefully as a guiding light that helps us find the way in the unchartered waters of European integration.