Article 234 and the European Community
Posted: 22 Aug 2008
Date Written: August 22, 2008
Article 234 is a vital device in ensuring every Member State benefits from the advantages of being part of the EU. The title question raises several issues that need to be resolved in order to understand article 234. First what is article 234, what does it do and what is its role in the community. Then it is necessary to look at how the procedure works and to what extent it fulfils its objectives i.e. do it have any shortcomings. Article 234 is an attempt to prevent a clear danger that Community Law may develop differently in the national courts of the Member States (i.e. be interpreted differently depending on legal traditions of the individual Member State) and as a result the benefits of an open community and a common market would be lost. Therefore it is vital that Community Law has the same meaning and effect in all Member States. This is where article 234 comes into play as it provides an effective way of ensuring uniform application by providing an ultimate authority for deciding the correct meaning and interpretation of Community Law and residing this responsibility on one body to ensure consistency. This one body being the European Court of Justice.
Article 234 prevents fragmentation by providing a reference procedure for national courts and creating a partnership between them and the Court of Justice which enables them to seek advice when interpreting various acts of Community Law. Key to this partnership is the fact that the Court of Justice interprets the law and the national courts apply it. These references can be made at any time during a case if it is considered that one is needed. Article 234 manages to ensure uniform application of Community Law by the national courts of the member states by establishing the preliminary reference procedure. The preliminary reference procedure is a way of helping or assisting the national courts in interpreting community law in order that they may apply it correctly. The quotation in the question is very true the reason we have Article 234 is to prevent each member state developing its own version of Community Law because with out Article 234 and the reference procedure it creates the courts in the individual Members States could misinterpret the law or all interpret it differently depending on their own legal traditions. This would then defeat the whole idea behind the EU and the benefits of coming together.
Keywords: European Community Law, Article 234, Member States
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation