Multilevel Judicial Governance in European and International Economic Law

EUI Working Papers LAW No. 2013/03

23 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2013

See all articles by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: April 1, 2013


Law and governance need to be justified vis-à-vis citizens in order to be accepted as legitimate and supported by civil society. This contribution argues that the legal and judicial methodologies of multilevel governance for international public goods need to be changed in order to protect basic needs and human rights of citizens more effectively. I define legal methodology in terms of the conceptions of the sources and ‘rules of recognition’ of law, the methods of interpretation, the functions and systemic nature of multilevel legal systems like IEL, and of the relationships between rules, principles, political and legal institutions and related practices. Section I recalls the historical evolution from ‘good governance’ to third-party adjudication and individual rights of access to justice. Section II discusses eight models of multilevel judicial governance in Europe. Section III uses constitutional and ‘public goods’ theories in order to explain the multiple functions of courts of justice and the increasing importance of judicial cooperation (comity) in protecting transnational rule of law in European and international economic law (IEL). Section IV argues that the diverse ‘constitutional methods’ applied by the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) offer important lessons for multilevel judicial governance in IEL beyond Europe. Section V concludes by emphasizing the judicial task of administering justice in IEL and the need for limiting the existing ‘legal’ and ‘doctrinal fragmentation’ through multilevel judicial protection of transnational rule of law for the benefit not only of governments, but also of citizens as legal subjects and ‘democratic owners’ of IEL.

Keywords: international economic law, judicial governance, European courts, EU law

Suggested Citation

Petersmann, Ernst-Ulrich, Multilevel Judicial Governance in European and International Economic Law (April 1, 2013). EUI Working Papers LAW No. 2013/03, Available at SSRN: or

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze

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