The Interpretation of Community Law by the European Court of Justice
German Law Journal, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp. 537-560, 2009
24 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 21, 2011
The article gives an account of the legal reasoning of the European Court of Justice. On the one hand, there seems to be no absolute specificity of the legal interpretation methods of the ECJ: its decisions are drafted in such a way as to be comprehensible to the national legal communities, and the Court employs interpretative arguments which are largely common to the legal traditions of the Members States. On the other hand, the case law of the ECJ has been characterized by an extensive application of the so called teleological argument, i.e. it has often been purpose-oriented. On the basis of a survey of the interpretative methods employed by the Court, the article tries to figure out what kind of conception of the EC Treaties underlines its case-law. The article suggests that the ECJ conceives of the EC Treaties as giving rise to a constitution of a special kind: a sort of project-constitution, a constitution-in-progress or dynamic constitution; a constitution which aims not just to establish the rights and duties of the contracting parties, but to initiate a constitutional project which is open-ended and evolutive.
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By Michal Bobek