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The European Court Of Justice Essay

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When the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was created in 1952 as a provision of the Treaty of Paris, no one could have imagined from such humble beginnings that the ECJ would become the institution that it is today. Today, the conflict between a semi-autonomous judiciary capable of conveying uniquely European rights on citizens able to be defended before a supranational court, and European governments, remains one of the clearest examples of the unintended consequences of an economic union that has over time evolved into something much more. As such, the question of why and under what circumstances European governments defer to ECJ judgements has never been more pertinent. In this paper, I will first provide a brief overview of two significant developments in the trajectory of the ECJ, before focusing on the case of France as an ideal example of how national legal contexts can at times conflict with EU law. Second, I will argue that the ECJ is keenly aware of its precarious position as an actor in the process of European integration. Since the 1960s, the court has occupied a contested space between those questioning the legitimacy of national law in light of the primacy of EU law, and those arguing that a democratically accountable EU requires an independent judiciary and supranationally shared set of rights and responsibilities. The supremacy of EU law to that of national law is an inherently delicate concept, challenged by both politicians and citizens alike.
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