Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law
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Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law

Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans

Research Handbook on EU Institutional Law offers a critical look into the European Union: its legal foundations, competences and institutions. It provides an analysis of the EU legal system, its application at the national level and the prevalent role of the Court of Justice. Throughout the course of the Handbook the expert contributors discuss whether the European Union is well equipped for the 21st century and the numerous crises it has to handle. They revisit the call for an EU reform made in the Laeken Conclusions in 2001 to verify if its objectives have been achieved by the Treaty of Lisbon and in daily practice of the EU institutions. The book also delves into the concept of a Europe of different speeds, which - according to some - is inevitable in the EU comprising 28 Member States. Overall, the assessment of the changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty is positive, even if there are plenty of suggestions for further reforms to re-fit the EU for purpose.
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Chapter 9: EU judiciary in need of reform?

Tamara Ćapeta


This contribution questions whether the EU judicial architecture should be redesigned. The main reason for raising the question is the perception that the Court’s authority has started to erode. A principal cause for this seems to be the inadequate reasoning of the Court’s decisions. Predominantly on its own initiative, the Court of Justice (hereinafter: the Court, CoJ) has established itself as an important player among EU institutions. Within the legal system, which has evolved largely under the Court’s direction, it is perceived as a political actor. The ‘political’ role of the Court could arguably be understood as its participation in shaping policy preferences in different areas of EU powers. This does not necessarily happen due to the Court’s efforts or even willingness to be a political actor. Quite the contrary, it is argued that despite the Court’s unwillingness to assume such a role, this has become inevitable in the complex organisation that is the EU. Clarifying the meaning, the reach or the scope of a legal rule is almost never a mechanical process. A contrario, it most often requires the Court to make a choice between two, or sometimes even more, possible meanings of the same legal rule. The outcome of the choice will have redistributive effects – one group in society will be better off, whereas the other will be worse off due to the choice made.

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