Ideas, Actors and Impact
Edited by Rune Ervik, Nanna Kildal and Even Nilssen
Chapter 5: Policy Making and Application of Law: Free Movement of Persons and the European Court of Justice
Aksel Hatland and Even Nilssen INTRODUCTION A major characteristic that separates the European Community from other international organizations like the UN and the OECD, is that the implementation of their policies is carried out by a powerful court of law, the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This court has proved to be much more than an obedient servant that fulfils its political masters’ political will, as it is also a policy-making body that creates new rights and duties through its case law. And it is a watchdog that controls other institutions of the EU, like the Commission and the European Parliament, and acts in accordance with the treaties that constitute the framework for political cooperation in the European Union. The ECJ is a referee that supervises the other political institutions of the European Community and the member countries, to ensure that they adhere to the rules of the game. The European Court of Justice is composed of one judge from each member state. That all member states are represented should strengthen the legitimacy of the Court’s decisions. Partly to protect the judges from pressure from their home land, the individual votes are not made public and minority opinions are not issued. The ECJ speaks with one voice.1 There seems to be broad agreement among students of European politics and law that the ECJ has been a powerful actor in shaping the development of the European Union in many fields (see Dehousse 1998; Beach 2001; de Burca and Weiler 2002; de...
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