Assess The Role The European Court Of Justice Has Played In European Integration? University Essay

998 words - 4 pages

The process of European Integration, which began more than 60 years ago, is still developing and expanding. In this changing and developing process, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has played and continues to play considerable role in the European Integration. In other words, the role of the ECJ has been central in the broader process of European Integration. While the ECJ makes binding decisions on disputes over Treaty provisions or secondary legislation and thus it has gained expanding power and role in the European Union (EU), it has been accused of generally ruling in favour of integrationist solutions to disputes. Moreover, decisions of the ECJ, which have direct effect on national jurisdiction and supremacy over conflicting domestic laws, have caused considerable debate on the dynamics of the sovereignty and reduction in the authority of national governments.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), one of the seven institutions of the EU, was established in its first form in 1952 as the Court of Justice of the European Coal and Steel Communities. The Court encompasses the whole judiciary system within the European Union. Three limited roles were assigned to the ECJ when it was created. A first role was to ensure ‘that the Commission and the Council of Ministers did not exceed their authority’, subsequently extended on the other EU institutions. A second role of the Court was related to the dispute resolution by interpreting and filling in vague aspects of disputed EC laws, in other words the Court is ‘filling in the [incomplete] contract through its legal decisions’. And finally, the ECJ was also designed to ‘decid[e] of charges of noncompliance raised by the Commission or by member states.
To overcome collective action problems, EU member states had to establish a rule of law, which makes the agreements of the treaties binding on participants. In order to achieve that, a mechanism for punishing non-compliance (judiciary system) with common agreed rules is put in place. The European Union is characterised by an existence of a rule of law, and therefore the EU system of governance can be described as quasi-constitutional system, which was gradually established by progressive constitutionalisation of the treaties through rulings of the ECJ. Some scholars argue (eg. neo-functionalists), that in order to produce the incentive for parties to abide by the law it is necessary that the institutions enforcing law are independent from legislature, which means that a separation of powers between judiciary and legislature need to be present. This theoretical model assumes ‘that the separation of powers works because judges are neutral political actors: they exercise judgement instead of will’, it can be said with whole certainty that ‘judges do have will’ (preferences).
The phenomenon described above is defined by political scientists as “judicial politics" and it is clearly visible in the EU. The EU’s judiciary is able to exercise its...

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