The priority of EU law and national (constitutional) identity in the decisions of the European Court of Justice and the constitutional courts of the EU member-states

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Author: Aleksei Ispolinov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2017-4-47-68

Keywords: constitutional courts; European Court of Justice; national (constitutional) identity; priority; supremacy


This article assesses the priority of EU law and national (constitutional) identity of EU member states. Firstly, this assessment is done from the point of view of the European Court of Justice, which has elaborated its doctrine of absolute primacy of EU law over national law. Secondly, this question is analyzed from the point of view of national constitutional courts of EU member states, presenting their own version of the limited and conditional primacy of EU law subject to the supremacy of national constitutions. It is suggested that, due to the different mission and tasks of the courts in question, the attitude of the European Court of Justice and national constitutional courts by their nature cannot be reconciled in principle, because the European Court of Justice is an emerging quasi federation and, for the national constitutional courts, the EU remains an intergovernmental organization created by 28 sovereign states. The current practice of the European Court of Justice regrettably fails to make any difference between national constitutional courts and other domestic courts. Attempts to use Article 4(2) of the Lisbon Treaty (the national identity clause) as a basis for judicial dialogue between the courts appeared to be illusory and failed. The latent competition between the European Court of Justice and the constitutional courts of member states shall be taken as a vital part of the evolving system of checks and balances at the level of the EU. Such a system is of high importance for strengthening the protection of human rights and enhancing the legitimacy of the EU’s legal order.

About the author: Alexei Ispolinov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Head of International Law Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Ispolinov A. (2017). Prioritet prava Evropeyskogo Soyuza i natsional’naya (konstitutsionnaya) identichnost’ v resheniyah Suda ES i konstitutsionnykh sudov gosudarstv – chlenov ES [The priority of EU law and national (constitutional) identity in the decisions of the European Court of Justice and the constitutional courts of the EU member-states]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.4, pp.47–68. (In Russian).


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