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 14: National procedural autonomy: concept, practice and theoretical queries

Matej Avbelj


National procedural autonomy is an elusive and contested concept. It is riddled with several tensions. The first is between semantics and being. It reflects the disparity between the judicial practice and the academic discourse on national procedural autonomy. Semantically speaking, national procedural autonomy is a scholarly invention. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU or the Court) resisted describing its jurisprudence in those terms for a number of years. While the notion of national procedural autonomy first appeared in scholarly writing in 1972, Advocates General picked it up in the 1990s, whereas the Court has started to employ it only as of 2004. The second tension, which divides especially academic opinion, is between the existence and the viability of the national procedural autonomy. For some there is no such thing as national procedural autonomy, while for others it represents one of the main principles underlying the institutional relationship between EU law and national law. To these views we must add those belonging to the middle ground, as it were. They believe that there is something to the idea of national procedural autonomy, but prefer talking of national procedural competences rather than autonomy. The divisions about the very existence of national procedural autonomy are usually fuelled by conflicting views on the practical viability of the concept as employed by the Court. Again, while some are content with the Court’s national procedural autonomy test, others insist that it is beset with contradictionand is only creating false impressions.

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