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The European Court and Civil Society


  • 1 b/w illus. 22 tables
  • Page extent: 310 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.509 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521671811)

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$49.99 (C)

The European Union today stands on the brink of radical institutional and constitutional change. The most recent enlargement and proposed legal reforms reflect a commitment to democracy: stabilizing political life for citizens governed by new regimes, and constructing a European Union more accountable to civil society. Despite the perceived novelty of these reforms, this book explains (through quantitative data and qualitative case analyses) how the European Court of Justice has developed and sustained a vibrant tradition of democratic constitutionalism since the 1960s. The book documents the dramatic consequences of this institutional change for civil society and public policy reform throughout Europe. Cichowski offers detailed empirical and historical studies of gender equality and environmental protection law across fifteen countries and over thirty years, revealing important linkages between civil society, courts and the construction of governance. The findings bring into question dominant understandings of legal integration.


1. Introduction: institutions, organizations and actors; 2. Overview of institutionalization in the European Union; Part I. Institutionalization Through Litigation: 3. The ECJ and the expansion of gender equality rights; 4. Environmental protection, non-compliance and judicial politics; Part II. Institutionalization Through Mobilization: 5. Women's rights activists: informal to formal organizing; 6. Collective activism for the environment; 7. Conclusion: litigation, mobilization and governance.

Prize Winner

Winner, 2008 Best Book Award, European Politics and Society Section, American Political Science Association


"With its emphasis on the role and dynamics of public interest litigation and mobilization, this book offers valuable empirical data as well as wider theoretical reflections on the institutionalization processes of supranational governance. Fascinating reading for those interested in the institutional evolution of the EU and in particular judicial politics."
Deirdre Curtin, School of Governance, Utrecht University

"Rachel Cichowski's interesting and well-written book is a welcome addition to the literature on supranational governance and the role of the European Court of Justice. It takes its place within a more recent genre of genuinely interdisciplinary EU scholarship, which brings together the rigour of political science methodology and attention to empirical detail with a nuanced understanding of law, litigation and the judicial role in the evolution of the European Union."
Grainne De BĂșrca, Professor of European Law, European University Institu

"A devastating critique of the intergovernmental approach to understanding the EU, Cichowski's study integrates the European Court of Justice into our understanding of European policy. Cichowski moves beyond a narrow set of concerns about supreme courts, judicial review and activism and restraint and pursues broader questions about courts, public policy and transnational social movements. At last, gender equality policy studied not just as legal doctrine but as a contested policy terrain where strategic players include litigants, national equality agencies, states and transnational actors is given the prominence its policy importance merits. By comparing gender equality policy with environmental policy, Cichowski is able to generalize beyond one policy domain to make larger claims about European Union policy. A fine piece of scholarship that will be of interest to scholars of the European Union, comparative politics, public policy, gender and environmental policy, international relations and law and courts."
Sally J. Kenney, Professor, Public Affairs and Law and Director, Center on Women and Public Policy, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

"Cichowski's tireless efforts to reconstruct what happened inside and outside of various courtrooms, before and after the legal proceedings, reveal a trove of findings, confirming what we knew and providing new insights."
Perspectives on Politics, Karen J. Alter, Northwestern University

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