Judicial activism in the European Union

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The European Court of Justice has historically been an important driver of integration in the EU by performing judicial activism. [1] [2]

Cases[edit]

In the Cassis de Dijon Case, the European Court of Justice ruled the German laws prohibiting sales of liquors with alcohol percentages between 15% and 25% conflicted with EU laws. This ruling confirmed that EU law has primacy over member-state law.[3] When the treaties are unclear, they leave room for the Court to interpret them in different ways. When EU treaties are negotiated, it is difficult to get all governments to agree on a clear set of laws. In order to get a compromise, governments agree to leave a decision on an issue to the Court. [4] The Court can only practice judicial activism to the extent the EU Governments leave room for interpretation in the treaties.[5] The Court makes important rulings that set the agenda for further EU integration, but it cannot happen without the consensual support of the member-states.[6] The most recent case of judicial activism of the European Court of Justice is the Metock case which determined that the strict Danish and Irish immigration laws conflict with EU laws.[7]

Lisbon Treaty[edit]

In the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty many issues not directly related to the treaty, such as abortion were included in the debate because of worries that the Lisbon Treaty will enable the European Court of Justice to make activist rulings in these areas. After the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, the Irish Government received concessions from the rest of the member states of the European Union to make written guarantees that the EU will under no circumstances interfere with Irish abortion, taxation or military neutrality. [8] Ireland voted on the Lisbon Treaty a second time in 2009, with a 67.13% majority voting Yes to the treaty.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bache, Ian and Stephen George (2006). Politics in the European Union, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press
  2. ^ critical on talking about "judicial activism" in regard to the ECJ: Andreas Grimmel (2011). Integration and the Context of Law: Why the European Court of Justice is not a Political Actor. In: Les cahiers européens de Sciences Po, n° 03/2011 http://www.cee.sciences-po.fr/en/publications/les-cahiers-europeens/2011/doc/388/raw
  3. ^ EUabc – Cassis de Djion case: http://en.euabc.com/word/140
  4. ^ Bache, Ian and Stephen George (2006). Politics in the European Union, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press
  5. ^ Moravcsik, A. (2002) ‘In defense of the democratic deficit: reassessing legitimacy in the European Union’ Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol 40, Issue 4
  6. ^ Moravcsik, A. (2002) ‘In defense of the democratic deficit: reassessing legitimacy in the European Union’ Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol 40, Issue 4
  7. ^ Metock case brings down Danish immigration laws http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3457
  8. ^ Irish secure concessions on Lisbon Treaty: http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2008/12/irish-secure-concessions-on-lisbon-treaty/63409.aspx