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Revisiting the European Court of Justice


  • Mattli, Walter
  • Slaughter, Anne-Marie


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is widely recognized not only as an important actor in the process of European integration but also as a strategic actor in its own right. In the last four years the literature on the Court has dramatically expanded, nourishing a lively debate between neofunctionalists and intergovernmentalists. But this debate has now reached the limits of its usefulness. Both neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism neglect the range of specific motives and constraints shaping the behavior of individual litigants and national courts; further, both insist on modeling the state as a unitary actor. New scholarship on public interest and corporate litigants in the EU and on the relationship between the ECJ and national courts highlights these failings. Reviewing the literature, this essay develops a model of the legal integration process that encompasses disaggregated state actors—courts, regulatory agencies, executives, and legislatures—interacting with both supranational institutions and private actors in domestic and transnational society. It distills new data and theoretical insights to specify the preferences of some of these actors and the constraints they face in implementing those preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Mattli, Walter & Slaughter, Anne-Marie, 1998. "Revisiting the European Court of Justice," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(01), pages 177-209, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:52:y:1998:i:01:p:177-209_44

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    Cited by:

    1. Taschowsky, Peter, 2001. "Neuer Institutionalismus und die europäische Sozialpolitik," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-250, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    2. Stefan Voigt, "undated". "Iudex Calculat: The ECJ's Quest for Power," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2003-1-1066, Berkeley Electronic Press.
    3. Jürgen Neyer, 2002. "Discourse and Order in the EU. A Deliberative Approach to European Governance," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 57, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    4. Grimmel, Andreas, 2011. "Politics in robes? The European Court of Justice and the myth of judicial activism," Discussion Papers 2/11, Europa-Kolleg Hamburg, Institute for European Integration.
    5. Hornuf, Lars & Voigt, Stefan, 2011. "Preliminary References — Analyzing the Determinants that Made the ECJ the Powerful Court it Is," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2dg9t3x9, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    6. Höpner, Martin, 2014. "Wie der Europäische Gerichtshof und die Kommission Liberalisierung durchsetzen: Befunde aus der MPIfG-Forschungsgruppe zur Politischen Ökonomie der europäischen Integration," MPIfG Discussion Paper 14/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    7. George Tridimas & Takis Tridimas, 2002. "The European Court of Justice and the Annulment of the Tobacco Advertisement Directive: Friend of National Sovereignty or Foe of Public Health?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 171-183, September.
    8. Höpner, Martin, 2010. "Warum betreibt der Europäische Gerichtshof Rechtsfortbildung? Die Politisierungshypothese," MPIfG Working Paper 10/2, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    9. Höpner, Martin, 2008. "Usurpation statt Delegation: Wie der EuGH die Binnenmarktintegration radikalisiert und warum er politischer Kontrolle bedarf," MPIfG Discussion Paper 08/12, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    10. Höpner, Martin, 2017. "Grundfreiheiten als Liberalisierungsgebote? Reformoptionen im Kontext der EU-Reformdebatte," MPIfG Discussion Paper 17/10, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    11. Clifford J. Carrubba & Matthew Gabel, 2005. "Do Governments Sway European Court of Justice Decision-making?: Evidence from Government Court Briefs," Working Papers 2005-06, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
    12. Darren Hawkins & Wade Jacoby, 2008. "Agent permeability, principal delegation and the European Court of Human Rights," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 1-28, March.
    13. George Tridimas, 2004. "A Political Economy Perspective of Judicial Review in the European Union: Judicial Appointments Rule, Accessibility and Jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 99-116, July.
    14. Marlene Wind, 2010. "The Nordics, the EU and the Reluctance Towards Supranational Judicial Review," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 1039-1063, September.
    15. Jean-Yves Pitarakis & George Tridimas, 2003. "Joint Dynamics of Legal and Economic Integration in the European Union," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 357-368, November.
    16. Andreas Grimmel, 2011. "Integration and the Context of Law: Why the European Court of Justice is not a Political Actor," Les Cahiers européens de Sciences Po 3, Centre d'études européennes (CEE) at Sciences Po, Paris.
    17. Mark A. Pollack, 2007. "The New Institutionalisms and European Integration," The Constitutionalism Web-Papers p0031, University of Hamburg, Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Science.
    18. Wolf, Sebastian, 2011. "Euratom Before the Court: A Political Theory of Legal Non-Integration," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 15, December.
    19. Lars Hornuf & Stefan Voigt, 2015. "Analyzing preliminary references as the powerbase of the European Court of Justice," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 287-311, April.
    20. repec:bla:jcmkts:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:551-568 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Tridimas, George & Tridimas, Takis, 2004. "National courts and the European Court of Justice: a public choice analysis of the preliminary reference procedure," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 125-145, June.
    22. William Phelan, 2008. "Why do EU Member States Offer a 'Constitutional' Obedience to EU Obligations? Encompassing Domestic Institutions and Costly International Obligations," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp256, IIIS.

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