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 8: Judicial reception of EU law in Estonia
Questions concerning the judicial application of European Union (EU) law by national courts have been central to legal scholarship and practice ever since the creation of the European Communities. The importance of cooperation between national and EU courts is based on the distinct ‘sui generis’ legal nature of the EU legal system, which is built on the two-level institutional set-up for applying EU law. Various theoretical models and methodologies have been put forward to analyse the dynamics of cooperation between national and EU courts. Expectations regarding the acceptance of EU law in ten post-Communist Member States (NMS) have been extremely mixed. While substantial scholarly debate has emerged in the last ten years, the available literature on the judicial acceptance of EU law in NMS has two main shortcomings. The first stems from a focus on the supreme courts (substantive limitation), and the second stems from a focus on larger Member States (geographical limitation). As established elsewhere (for detailed criticism, see Evas ), these two points of focus allow only a partial understanding of the dynamics of the acceptance of EU law in NMS.7 This chapter bridges the substantive and geographical lacuna by analysing the application of EU law in Estonian courts. International legal scholars rarely focus their analytical attention on Estonia. This chapter will demonstrate that developments and experiences in applying EU law in Estonia are in many respects rather different to those in other Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) such as Poland and Czech Republic. While Estonia shares with other CEECs the date of accession to the EU, its constitutional/normative transformation process and structural institutional choices do not necessarily follow dynamics which are the same or even similar to other CEECs. Each country in the region has its own historical, normative and institutional conditions. Overall generalizations on the dynamics of applying EU law in CEEs based on an analysis of Poland and the Czech Republic are incomplete and fail to explain more complex and diverse experiences in the region.
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