For a long time, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), founded along with the other core EU institutions in the 1950s and seated in the tiny Duchy of Luxembourg, has operated below the radar of public consciousness. Since the 1990s, however, researchers, and increasingly also European politicians and citizens, have realized how consequential the rulings of this court are. Since the Lisbon Treaty, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) consists of a Court of Justice, a General Court and a Civil Service Tribunal. The CJEU is now recognized as the ‘most effective supranational judicial body’ (Stone Sweet, 2004: 1) that ever existed. To a varying extent, it has jurisdiction over the entire range of EU policies. The existence of an effective court is indispensable in a Community of 28 member states which often manage only to agree on vague compromises, leaving the interpretation of the details to lawyers. Convinced that strict adherence to agreed laws and rules is necessary for the functioning of a political body such as the EU, the 28 judges of the CJEU have consistently asserted the supremacy of Community law, following the landmark Costa v. ENEL ruling of 1964 (Costa v. ENEL, 1964). They have not hesitated to rule against powerful member states and to pursue their own interpretation of the ‘spirit’ of the treaties. Member states have generally complied with their rulings. The CJEU also has emerged as an indispensable actor in the EU’s political system of checks and balances, often strengthening the powers of the European Parliament against the dominant executives of the Commission and Council.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Too Much Power for the Judges
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number