New Issues, Theories and Methods
Judicial Review and Cooperation series
Edited by Bruno de Witte, Juan A. Mayoral, Urszula Jaremba, Marlene Wind and Karolina Podstawa
Chapter 1: Introduction. National courts vis-à-visEU law: new issues, theories and methods
Ever since the European Communities were created, it has been well understood that national judges play an essential role in the legal system of the European Union (EU) by acting as decentralised Union judges who enforce EU law and contribute to the process of legal integration within the Union. In this capacity, they are considered essential to the European legal order and the European Union judiciary, functioning as ‘foot soldiers’ of enforcement even against executive and legislative resistance to complying with EU law. Over the years, the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter the CJEU or the Court) has played a crucial role in configuring the role of national judges within the EU legal order by shaping the terms on which national courts must deal with EU law. The CJEU’s development and constitutionalisation of the jurisprudence that engaged national courts in monitoring and enforcing EU law in the national realm has been very broadly discussed by academics and practitioners. The move towards constitutionalisation of the EU legal order was fostered by the preliminary references system that enhanced the cooperation between the CJEU and the national courts. The role of national courts as decentralised EU courts has been partly constructed on the strength of the EU mandate that follows from the EU Treaties, but predominantly built through the Court’s jurisprudence in which the Court made national judges responsible for reviewing the national implementation of EU law and for correctly enforcing it.