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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) was established as part of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950, and later adapted as part of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. The most important design feature of the ECJ proved to be the “preliminary ruling mechanism,” intended to provide national courts with technical support in interpreting complex European law. In practice, preliminary ruling references provided a means for the ECJ to insert itself into national debates regarding the relationship of European law to national law, and to harness national courts as enforcers of ECJ decisions. This article explores the ECJ's role in European integration and locates its remarkable experience in the larger context of international courts and international law. It also discusses comparative politics and the role of the ECJ as an interlocutor.

Keywords: ECJ, preliminary ruling mechanism, European law, integration, international courts, international law, comparative politics

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