The European Court Of Justice

1766 Words8 Pages
Introduction Although the European Court of Justice (ECJ) continues to insist that national procedural autonomy remains a key consideration, its case law shows that this principle has enjoyed a varying amount of deference through the decades. Although the principle of ‘equivalence’ is tolerably clear, setting out clear requirements that can be easily fulfilled by national legal orders, ‘effectiveness’ has had a much more chequered history. Francovich also represents a further incursion on the procedural autonomy of Member States. This essay will argue that the ECJ’s shifting attitudes over the years – ranging from relative deference to activism – ultimately spring from non-legal considerations, particularly political necessity and a desire to preserve the EC’s core competencies; such political considerations also explain why there has never been generally applicable legislation that harmonises national remedies. Starting point: national procedural autonomy? It is true that the ECJ has outlined the importance of national procedural autonomy in its judgments over the years. In Comet, it held that it was for each Member State’s national legal order “to lay down the procedural rules for proceedings designed to ensure the protection of [EU] rights”. Three decades later, this exhortation was repeated in Unibet, where the Court thought the EC Treaty ‘was not intended to create new remedies in the national law… other than those already laid down by national law’. National
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