The chapter introduces the Court of Justice of the EU by looking at five key elements defining the institution in a diachronic perspective: the structure of the Union courts located in Luxembourg, looked at vertically (the ECJ, the GC, and the CST) as well as horizontally (division of work within the ECJ and in particular the role of the grand chamber); the type of judicial business the Court of Justice carries out today, in both its quantitative as well as qualitative dimensions; its composition, including the recent changes made by the Treaty of Lisbon to the way in which judges and Advocates General are selected and appointed; the often discussed reasoning style and structure of the judgments; and, finally, the even more frequently discussed and recurring question of the legitimacy of the Court of Justice.
Analysis of EU law making is made difficult by the presence of multiple legislative procedures. Matters are further complicated by neither national nor postnational models of democracy providing convincing answers as to when EU law making is democratic. This grants EU law making a democratic ambiguity. It is committed to democracy and has democratic features, but not sufficiently to convince the Union’s citizens of its democratic authority. The scepticism generated by this is itself valuable. Democratic ambiguity generates further positive features within all EU legislative procedures: the possibility of triple review by different institutional actors—the European Parliament, national governments, and national parliaments. This is unparalleled but compromised by other features of EU law making: first, the lack of compass to indicate when it is democratic for the Union to legislate, and second, democratic fluidity, the presence of informal processes that serve to bypass and undermine this triple review.
Although the development of EU law is the result of the interaction of many political and institutional actors, no other relationship is perhaps as important as that between the ECJ and the national courts. Their interaction is dialectical, full of circumspection and deference, albeit occasionally tense, and based on an incomplete and somewhat unstable political bargain. This contribution seeks to explore some recent trends in this intra-judicial dialogue. It looks at the attributes of the interaction between the ECJ and the national courts, the centralized constitutional model favoured by the ECJ case law, and the vexed issue of Kompetenz-Kompetenz. Finally, it explores some recent judgments which suggest uneasiness and even open defiance on the part of some the national supreme jurisdictions.
This chapter is concerned with the mechanisms available under the European Union Treaties for providing judicial review of acts adopted by the Union’s institutions and other bodies. It focuses particularly on acts of general application. Section II considers briefly the place of the action for annulment and the preliminary rulings procedure in the remedial framework of the Treaties. Section III reviews some of the extensive Anglo-American literature on the legitimacy of judicial review. Sections IV and V trace the evolution of the action for annulment before and after the Treaty of Lisbon. They concentrate on the standing requirements applicable to claims brought by natural and legal persons for the annulment of acts of general application and the Court’s growing emphasis on the remedies available in national courts. Section VI offers some reflections on the rationale for the Court’s current approach and the effectiveness of the Union’s contemporary system of remedies.